Australia

“Yeelirrie in my language means place of death.” Koara elder Richard Evans.

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Is time up for Australia's uranium industry?

ranger-tank-data

[19.12.2013] Times are tough for Australia's yellow-cake industry. Is it best to put the whole thing out of its misery?

(by Dave Sweeny)

 

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Historic day as Koongarra is protected from uranium mining

AustralienConservationCANBERRA: The Australian Conservation Foundation has warmly welcomed the introduction of federal legislation to permanently protect Koongarra, a distinct and special part of the Kakadu region, from the threat of uranium mining.

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Dirt Cheap 30 years on - Screening in Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin

Dirt CheapThe reworked edition of the 1980 film: Dirt Cheap 30 years on will be shown in movie theaters throughout Europe.

Sunday, September 23rd 8pm, at the SMART Project Space in Amsterdam. 

Wednesday, September 26th 6pm, in the Fairtrade Room of Mundo-B, 26 rue d’Edimbourg, 1050 Brussels.

Friday, September 28th 8.30pm, at Cinema Moviemento in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

Read on for more information about the film.

 

 

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Protest against the expansion of the Olympic Dam Mine (Roxby Downs, Australia)

Activists have made camp to protest in front of the Olympic Dam Mine near Roxby Downs, 560 kilometres north-west of Adelaide. A Gate was broken, and there have been a few arrests at the otherwise peaceful demonstration site. Police says roadblocks around the area will remain in place for a week. If you want further information on the problem, the awareness homepage from 2011, Roxstop-action.org is a good place to start. You'll find a film called "Wake UP" by David Bradbury, plus further information on the planned expansion of the Olympic Dam Mine.

Forget the billions, return Jabiluka site to Kakadu, say traditional owners (Sydney Morning Herald, 2011, en)

by Lindsay Murdoch
The Sydney Morning Herald
April 7, 2011
Aboriginal traditional owners have declared they want the
multibillion-dollar Jabiluka uranium deposit to remain undeveloped and
be incorporated into Kakadu National Park.
A senior traditional owner, Yvonne Margarula, says her Mirarr people
are "deeply saddened" that for more than 30 years uranium that should
never have been disturbed on their land at the Ranger mine in the
Northern Territory has been exported to Japan to be used by nuclear
power companies, including at the stricken Fukushima plant, which was
heavily damaged by the tsunami last month and has been leaking
radiation.
Ms Margarula told the Herald that in the Mirarr people's Dreaming a
sacred dangerous power called Djang was unleashed when it was
disturbed on their land.
She said her late father, Toby Gangale, warned the Australian
government in the late 1970s that Djang "might kill all over the
world" if disturbed at Ranger, which was built despite opposition from
traditional owners.
"No one listened to him," she said.
Ms Margarula and 70 others in her clan could be among Australia's
richest people if they allowed Energy Resources of Australia to
develop Jabiluka, which was halted in 1998 after an eight-month
blockade by 5000 protesters.
The 72 square kilometre mineral lease containing 141,640 tonnes of
uranium is one of the world's largest undeveloped uranium deposits.
ERA, 68 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, is eager to mine the high grade
deposit worth $18.5 billion.
Speaking in Jabiru, a town near the Ranger mine and Jabiluka deposit,
both on land owned by the Mirarr people, Ms Margarula said Jabiluka is
a sacred place and she never wanted to see it disturbed.
In a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, this
week, Ms Margarula said it was "with great sadness" the Mirarr people
learnt of the suffering of the Japanese people following the
earthquake and tsunami.
Ms Margarula told Mr Ban her people had been blocked from opposing the
export of uranium from their land to Japan.
"Given the long history between Japanese nuclear companies and
Australian uranium mines, it is likely that the radiation problems at
Fukushima are, in part at least, fuelled by uranium derived from our
traditional lands," she wrote.
Ms Margarula, a shy, softly spoken elder, said her people had decided
they wanted the federal government to support the incorporation of the
Jabiluka site into the Kakadu park, as it had for another uranium
mining area at Koongarra, near the renowned Nourlangie Rock.
That decision angered the French energy group Areva, which holds the
mineral lease over the 12 square kilometre site that contains 14,000
tonnes of uranium worth billions of dollars.
Jeffery Lee, the sole member of the Djok clan, offered Koongarra to
the government, shunning the chance to become a billionaire, saying he
is happy to work as a ranger protecting the land.

Traditional owners want Jabiluka protected (ABC News, 2011, en)

The Jabiluka mine was the subject of protests in the late 1990s. ERA
retains the right to mine the site. Traditional owners want uranium
mine to become part of Kakadu
by Michael Coggan
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News
April 7, 2011

Aboriginal traditional owners say they want the massive Jabiluka
uranium deposit in the Northern Territory to remain undeveloped and be
incorporated into Kakadu National Park.
Motivated by events at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, the
traditional owners of Energy Resources of Australia's (ERA) Jabiluka
deposit say they want it incorporated into the world heritage-listed
park.
In the late 1990s, thousands of Australians protested against plans to
mine uranium at Jabiluka.
While ERA won a fight for the right to mine the world's largest known
undeveloped uranium deposit, the Mirrar Aboriginal traditional owners
refused to give the company permission to build the mill it needed to
process the uranium, and the mine shaft was filled in.
ERA retains the right to mine the site, but now the Mirrar people are
declaring a wish to have Jabiluka incorporated into Kakadu.
In an interview with Fairfax newspapers, traditional owner Yvonne
Margarula says she is "really happy about it becoming part of the
national park".
"My nephews and nieces can look after the country," she said.
It is a sentiment echoed in an interview with the ABC in 2009.
"My country is important for me. Caring my country in our care, the
country where I've grow up."
In an indication of why the Mirrar people want Jabiluka to become a
part of Kakadu, Ms Margarula this week has written to United Nations
secretary-general Ban Ki-moon expressing the Mirrar's great sadness at
the suffering of the people in Japan from the earthquake, tsunami and
the emergency at the Fukushima plant.
In the letter, Ms Margarula says the nuclear industry is something "we
have never supported in the past and that we want no part of into the
future".
"Given the long history between Japanese nuclear companies and
Australian uranium mines, it is likely the radiation problems at
Fukushima are in part at least fuelled by uranium derived from our
traditional lands," she said.
The Mirrar people are foregoing billions of dollars in potential
mining royalties, but Ms Margarula says money is not as important as
looking after their country.

Aborigines to block uranium mining after Japan disaster (The independent, 2011, en)

by Kathy Marks in Sydney
The Independent
April 14, 2011

Since Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant began leaking radiation after
last month’s earthquake and tsunami, those watching with consternation
have included the Mirarr Aboriginal people of Australia’s Northern
Territory, who are determined to limit uranium mining on their land
despite the promise of vast riches.

The Mirarr are the traditional owners of land where uranium has been
mined for more than 30 years and exported all over the world. Tepco,
which operates the Fukushima plant, is a long-standing customer of
Ranger, the principal mine.

The senior traditional elder in the area, Yvonne Margarula, has
written to the UN Secretary- General, Ban Ki-moon, expressing her
people’s sorrow about Japan’s suffering, and their concern about the
nuclear emergency.

“Given the long history between Japanese nuclear companies and
Australian uranium miners, it is likely that the radiation problems at
Fukushima are, at least in part, being fuelled by uranium derived from
our traditional lands,” she said. “This makes us feel very sad.”

Ms Margarula also told Mr Ban that events in Japan had strengthened
the Mirarr’s resolve to oppose work at a second mine, named Jabiluka
-- the world’s largest known undeveloped uranium deposit. Instead,
they want to see Jabiluka incorporated into Kakadu, the World
Heritage-listed national park where Ranger is also located.

Uranium mining has a troubled history in the area. The Ranger deposit
-- now operated by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), a subsidiary
of the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto -- was developed
against the Mirarr’s wishes. Jabiluka, also leased by ERA, has been in
limbo since 1998, when thousands of people staged an eight-month
blockade there at the Mirarr’s urging.

Although the traditional owners have received royalties of more than
A$200m (£129m) from Ranger, Ms Margarula told a parliamentary inquiry
in 2005 that mining had “completely upturned our lives, bringing
greater access to alcohol and many arguments between Aboriginal
people, mainly about money”.

She added: “Uranium mining has also taken our country away from us and
destroyed it -- billabongs and creeks gone for ever. There are hills
of poisonous rock and great holes in the ground with poisonous mud.”

Situated within the boundaries of Kakadu, the Ranger and Jabiluka
leases were excluded when the national park was World Heritage-listed.
Although the 70 landowners would reap billions in royalties if
Jabiluka went into operation, placing them among the ranks of
Australia’s richest people, they want the site protected for ever.
They have held a veto over its development since 2005.

Ms Margarula told The Age newspaper that the Mirarr’s ancient
“Dreaming” stories warned that a lethal power named Djang would be
unleashed if their lands were disturbed. Her late father, Toby
Gangale, had warned the Australian government in the late 1970s, when
mining began at Ranger, that Djang “might kill all over the world”,
she said, adding: “No one listened to him.”

Australia has the world’s largest reserves of uranium, with great
quantities identified at a mine called Olympic Dam, in South
Australia.

The Mirarr’s willingness to forgo untold riches may seem hard to
believe, but it has a precedent. Last year, Jeffrey Lee, the
traditional owner of a uranium deposit at Koongarra in Kakadu, gave
the land to the national park.