Uranium Mining Issues: 2015 Review
(last updated 4 Nov 2016)
> See also 2015 News Archive
The weekly uranium spot market price, as published by UxC, started the year at $35.25 and ended it $1 lower at $34.25 per lb U3O8. In between, it hovered in the $35 to $39 corridor for most of the time. So, it stayed at about half of the value required for many of the currently proposed new uranium mine projects to become feasible. Consequently, there was no incentive for the uranium industry to end its current hibernation mode.
After last year's failure, one of our most reliable indicators of the actual state of affairs in the uranium industry - the number of companies adding/removing the term "uranium" to/from their name - returned to normal function again, with two companies actually removing the term and one other company announcing so.
Last year's anticyclical exception, a company changing its name to "NX Uranium, Inc." apparently did not evolve into a high-flier, as it produced no news at all - thus confirming our then suspicion that the name must be correctly read as "Nix Uranium, Inc." This year almost produced another exception, as "Berkeley Resources Ltd." - the developer of the Salamanca uranium mine project in Spain - felt it was time to replace the term "Resources" with something more sexy, but they lost heart halfway, choosing the term "Energy" rather than "Uranium".
This year, the "Mind-blowing Company News of the Year Award" goes to struggling Australian uranium explorer Capital Mining for its announcement to switch business and grow cannabis in Canada.
- The report of a public inquiry commission looking into the impacts of proposed uranium mining in Québec (Canada) concluded that uranium mining should not start in the province right now. The Québec government has not announced a decision yet, and a temporary moratorium is still in effect.
In connection with the moratorium, Strateco Resources Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection on losses with its Matoush uranium mine project.
- A lawsuit seeking to overturn Virginia's state ban on uranium mining was dismissed by a U.S. federal judge. The lawsuit was filed by Virginia Uranium Inc., the company that wants to mine the Coles Hill uranium deposit.
- Legislation for a permanent protection of the Grand Canyon area from uranium mining was introduced in U.S. Congress. In 2012, the Department of Interior (DOI) had imposed a temporary ban for 20 years.
- In Tanzania, activists climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in July in an endeavour to call African governments to ban uranium mining and nuclear weapons.
- The newly elected Queensland Government (Australia) announced plans to reinstate the state's uranium mining ban that had been overturned by the previous government in 2012.
- The Czech Ministry of Environment rejected an appeal against the denial of the establishment of an exploration area at Osečná-Kotel (Northern Bohemia), as requested by Urania Mining s.r.o.
- The Slovak Ministry of Environment denied a license renewal for the exploration of the Kurišková uranium deposit. The Ministry also denied a request for an exploration licence for Rare Earth Elements rather than uranium at the site.
Australian explorer Forte Energy filed court proceedings seeking compensation for the denial of the license renewal and terminated its involvement in the Kurišková and Novoveská Huta uranium mine projects in Slovakia.
- After the repeal of the uranium exploration ban in New South Wales (Australia), only one of the six companies invited by the State Government to apply for a uranium exploration license has done so - uranium mining still remains prohibited by State law.
Positive preliminary economic assessments:
In spite of the depressed market, there are still a number of companies carrying on their projects - to be prepared once the hoped-for big upturn of the uranium market actually happens.
Positive preliminary economic assessments, preliminary feasibility studies, or scoping studies were announced for the following uranium mine projects - however, all of them assuming uranium sales prices way above current market prices:
- Patterson Lake South uranium mine project (Saskatchewan)
- Ur-Energy Inc.'s Shirley Basin Uranium Project (Wyoming)
- Dewey Burdock in situ leach uranium project (South Dakota)
- Roca Honda uranium mine (New Mexico)
- Salamanca uranium mine project (Spain)
- Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project (Greenland)
- Temrezli in situ leach uranium mine project (Turkey)
- Mulga Rock uranium mine project (Western Australia)
License applications for new uranium mines were actually filed for the following projects:
- Madaouéla uranium mine project (Niger)
- Letlhakane uranium mine (Botswana) - in spite of shaky economics
- Karoo uranium and molybdenum mine projects (South Africa)
Uranium mining/milling licenses were issued for:
In addition, a Czech company obtained a mining license for an unnamed uranium deposit in Mongolia.
- Sheep Mountain Uranium Project (Wyoming)
- Ross in-situ leach uranium project (Wyoming)
- Kintyre uranium mine project (Western Australia)
- Dulaan Uul and Zoovch Ovoo uranium deposits (Mongolia)
The following uranium mine development project was temporarily suspended due to the unfavourable market situation (in addition to those already suspended in previous years):
- Eco Ridge rare earth and uranium mine project (Ontario).
A mining license was denied for:
- seabed-mining of uranium-containing phosphate nodules off New Zealand.
Projects currently under development, or being prepared for development:
In the USA:
- In May, the Nunavut review board said No to Areva's Kiggavik uranium mine project for the lack of a definite start date (Areva wanted to keep it open in view of the volatile market situation). Areva then asked the federal government to reject the review board's vote. The government's decision is still pending.
- After years of delays, Cameco finally announced the achievement of commercial production at its Cigar Lake high-grade uranium mine in Saskatchewan.
- An Expert's testimony identified a plethora of problems making it very unlikely that the Dewey-Burdock uranium deposit in South Dakota can be safely mined by in situ leaching. The testimony was only made public after an NRC Board ruled so at the request of intervenors. In the end, the Board dismissed most of the groundwater-related contentions and ruled in favor solely on the cultural issues raised by the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
- The Reno Creek in situ leach uranium mine project in Wyoming received a draft NRC licence, various state permits, and an EPA approval required for the project.
- The Nichols Ranch (Wyoming) and Burke Hollow (Texas) uranium in situ leach mine projects also received some of their necessary approvals.
- Uranium mining at Tanzania's first uranium mine, the Mkuju River Project located in an area cut out from the Selous Game Reserve, is expected to start in April 2016.
- Workers at the Chinese-owned Husab uranium mine project in Namibia demonstrated in January to denounce unfair conditions of employment. Mining was to start in May. In December, a fire destroyed part of the milling plant under construction at the site.
- For the Norasa Uranium Project in Namibia, a Feasibility Study was released, assuming a uranium price 66% higher than the current one.
- At the Etango uranium mine project in Namibia, a heap leach pilot plant was opened in March.
- The uranium recovery plant at the Stilfontein tailings reprocessing project in South Africa started operation.
- The permitting phase for the Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium mine project in Greenland began in November. Environmental groups had criticized the planned lake disposal for the tailings.
- The permitting process for Berkeley Energy's Retortillo uranium mine in Spain (part of the Salamanca uranium mine project) continued, resulting in the authorization for preliminary infrastructure works, among others. The year had started less promising with Berkeley being fined 8,000 Euros for drilling without a permit. Opponents to the mine organized several demonstrations, also including a road blockade. The Spanish Cabinet nevertheless denied the municipality the right to hold a local referendum on the proposed mine.
In October, Berkeley oddly enough announced to train residents in the use of explosives...
- In Hungary, liquidation proceedings were initiated against the company that had intended to develop the Mecsek Hills uranium mine project.
- In Romania, an environmental approval was issued for the new uranium mill "Uzina TG", meant to replace the existing "Uzina R".
- Jordan announced to start studies on the water, power and infrastructure needs for a uranium mine project in the central region.
- The International arbitration tribunal awarded Khan Resources Inc. US$ 100 million for the expropriation of the Dornod uranium deposit in Mongolia. Mongolia, however, did not abide by the tribunal order and filed to annul the arbitration award.
- In the meantime, the Chinese-owned Gurvanbulag uranium project in Mongolia is awaiting government approval of its environmental report.
- In Russia, a hearing was held on a heap leaching pilot-scale plant at the Berezovoye deposit in Trans-Baikal.
- In China, Tibetans protested against the start of uranium mining at the Drakzong sacred mountain in north-eastern Tibet.
- China National Nuclear Corp announced plans to build four new uranium mines in China: in Guangdong, Jiangxi, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.
- India decided to abandon plans for a uranium mine project at Kylleng-Pyndeng-Sohiong in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.
- Satellite images suggest that North Korea is expanding the capacity of the Pyongsan uranium mill.
- In Western Australia, the licensing process for the Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions of the Wiluna uranium mine project continued with the release of the Public Environmental Review. The start for the Wiluna uranium mine project itself, however, was pushed back due to the depressed market.
- The Public Environmental Reviews for the Mulga Rock and Yeelirrie uranium mine projects were also released for public comment.
By-product recovery of uranium from mining primarily for other ores:
- A positive Pre-Feasibility Study was announced for the PhosEnergy process for uranium by-product extraction from phosphate fertiliser production in Florida.
- The troubled Talvivaara Sotkamo nickel-zinc mine in Finland, where by-product recovery of uranium is (was?) planned, continued to produce bad news: in connection with the 2012 gypsum pond leak, four executives are on trial for environmental offences; and, again, due to an increase in rainfall and melting snow, the mine leaked another 750,000 cubic metres of mine water. At long last, the Finnish government purchased the doomed mine.
Suspended mine expansion projects:
- Cameco suspended the license application for the North Trend Expansion Area of its Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine in Nebraska.
- Energy Resources of Australia put the expansion project for its Ranger uranium mine in Australia's Northern Territory on hold. Parent company Rio Tinto completely withdrew support for any expansion of ERA's Ranger uranium mine, and Traditional owners rejected an extension of the Ranger uranium mining lease beyond 2021.
Planned expansion of existing uranium mines and mills, with licensing processes at various stages:
- Cameco requested a 50% increase in flowrate at its North Butte in situ leach uranium mine in Wyoming.
- The U.S. Bureau of Land Mangement (BLM) issued a Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the expansion of the Lost Creek uranium in situ leach project in Wyoming.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced an opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene on the Jane Dough extension of the Nichols Ranch ISL uranium mine in Wyoming.
- A construction license was issued for the new Engenho open pit mine at the Caetité uranium mine in Bahia, Brazil; site preparation works commenced in September.
- Paladin plans for another production increase at its Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia.
- Russia announced to start the construction of mine No. 6 at Krasnokamensk in February 2016. A new tailings deposit is also under construction at Krasnokamensk.
- The Vitimsky ISL mine in Russia is gradually increasing production; development of additional ore deposits commenced also.
Natural forces affecting operating uranium mines and mills:
- In July, Cameco suspended uranium shipments from its Saskatchewan mines due to forest fires.
- In January, storm damage caused a spill at Paladin's mothballed Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi.
Environmental issues at operating uranium mines and mills:
- Two leaks of uranium ore concentrate occured within the building of the Key Lake mill in Saskatchewan in January and February.
- The uranium loads in lake sediments near Cameco's Rabbit Lake mine in Saskatchewan are on the increase again - in spite of mine effluent treatment now operating for seven years already.
- A dramatic increase of radium concentrations in the tailings impoundments of the White Mesa uranium mill in Utah suggests radon emissions way beyond standards.
- A leaking deep disposal well at Cameco's Smith Ranch in situ leach mine in Wyoming was shut in only after a 20-month delay.
- A release of Yellow Cake occured at the Lost Creek uranium in situ leach mine in Wyoming.
- Energy Fuels Inc. announced to restart mining at the Canyon mine in Arizona, and a judge upheld the operation plan for the mine against claims from environmentalists.
However, in December, the renewal process for the air-pollution permit of three Grand Canyon mines (including the Canyon, EZ, and Pinenut mines in Arizona) was suspended, when a fourfold increased uranium level was found in soil near the Pinenut mine.
- The independent laboratory CRIIRAD released a report on radiation monitoring performed at the Caetité uranium mine in Bahia, Brazil.
- Rössing Uranium released several papers in reply to a 2012 CRIIRAD report on radiation monitoring results near the Rössing uranium mine site in Namibia.
- Another CRIIRAD report presented independent radiation monitoring results gathered during active operation of Paladin's Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi, indicating the failure of Paladin's zero-discharge policy. This year, the now mothballed mine discharged treated waste water into public rivers - to the dismay of local communities.
- The tailings pipeline from the Jaduguda uranium mill in Jharkhand, India, burst once again.
- A weed control fire escaped the Ranger uranium mine site in Australia and threatened important rock art sites in Kakadu National Park.
- Australia's Department of Enviroment decided that the proposed increase of the wall height of tailings dam TSF4 at the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia requires no enviromental approval, although opponents feared that the increase would probably cause more leakage.
Industrial action at operating uranium mines and mills:
- Workers held a three-day strike at Areva's Akouta mine in Niger in April.
- Contract workers handed over a petition to the management of Rössing Uranium in October, complaining about working conditions at the Rössing uranium mine in Namibia.
- Namibian contract workers downed tools at the Chinese-owned Husab uranium mine project in Namibia in June. In November, the Namibian High Court declared the strike illegal.
- Over 300 miners at the Crucea uranium mine in Romania protested by staying underground in March.
Miners' health issues at operating uranium mines and mills:
- At Paladin's Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia, workers protested against unsafe working conditions. Later, a report by the office of the Prime Minister confirmed a lack of safety at the mine.
- At the Olympic Dam copper/uranium underground mine in South Australia, a worker died in a rock fall accident.
Supplies issues at operating uranium mines and mills:
- A truck carrying hydrochloric acid to Cameco's Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine Nebraska overturned.
- An environmental permit was denied for Rössing's plan to construct a desalination plant of its own in Namibia. The government expects Rössing to buy its water from the existing Wlotzkasbaken desalination plant - at costs that the company considers prohibitive.
- A train carrying sulfuric acid for the Rössing uranium mine derailed in Namibia.
Shutdown, downsizing, etc. of operating mines and mills due to poor economics:
- Operations at the Chinese-owned Azelik mine in Niger were suspended in February, due to poor economics.
- The Beverley and Beverley North in situ leach uranium mines in South Australia were on care and maintenance as of March.
Other issues at operating uranium mines and mills:
- Rockfall halted operation of the Eagle Point uranium mine at Cameco's Rabbit Lake site in Saskatchewan in December.
- Construction of an on-site elution plant started at Energy Fuels' Nichols Ranch in situ leach uranium mine in Wyoming. So far, loaded resins have been shipped to other nearby third party-owned facilities for final yellowcake stripping, drying and packaging.
- Western Uranium announced plans to restart mining at the Sunday Mine complex in Colorado in 2016. The state regulator CDPHE halted trials with an experimental ablation unit for ore pre-concentration at the site until completion of a regulatory evaluation.
- After accusation of tax evasion by Canada's government in 2013, Cameco now also is involved in a tax dispute with the United States.
- A restart of uranium mining at the Caetité mine in Bahia, Brazil, is planned for 2016.
- Paladin finally allowed civil society organizations a long-denied site visit to its mothballed Kayelekera mine in Malawi; however, details of the agreement with the Malawi government are still withheld.
- A fire broke out in the final product recovery of the Rössing uranium mine in Namibia in February. In June, Rössing annonced to continue uranium production beyond 2032.
- Mintails Ltd seeked bankruptcy protection for its South African subsidiaries in October, as "the operational performance [...] has again fallen below expectations". The company is involved in the re-mining of tailings deposits for residual gold and uranium.
- The Dalmatovkoye in situ leach uranium mine in Russia added a drying system for yellow cake output and launched a pilot unit for scandium extraction.
- Mining operations at the Jaduguda uranium mine in Jharkhand, India, remained suspended, as the lease renewal is still pending.
- Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) confirmed it would like to mine at Ranger beyond its current permit expiry in 2021, but Traditional Owners challenged the federal government to guarantee that no future mining will occur at Ranger and Jabiluka.
Meanwhile, tailings disposal (from processing of stockpiled ore) started in the former Pit 3 open pit of the Ranger mine.
- A mill breakdown reduced the copper/uranium production capacity at the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia for four months.
- Canada's regulator CNSC removed a hold point pertaining to the remediation of the Gunnar legacy tailings deposits in Saskatchewan. It remains, however, unclear, who will pay for it, as the Federal Government fails to contribute its share in additional reclamation cost. The cost is now expected to exceed CDN$ 250 million, that is 10 times the estimate.
- Wildfires were burning near the abandoned Midnite uranium mine in Washington in August.
- Investigations demonstrated the need for cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Tachee/Blue Gap and Black Mesa Chapters of the Navajo Nation, Arizona. Contaminants in abandoned uranium mine waste can be released rapidly, presenting a hazard to residents.
- The U.S. government announced to pay the cleanup evaluation (not the cleanup itself!) of 16 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled with El Paso Natural Gas for some cleanup costs at abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation, near Cameron, Arizona.
- The U.S. EPA cleaned up 8 vicinity properties in the Grants Mineral Belt in New Mexico - what a phenomenal achievement after 25 years!
- Bankrupt Energy Future Holdings would pay less than 10% of the US$ 23 million cleanup cost of four abandoned uranium mines in McKinley County in New Mexico under a settlement plan filed in December. Those familiar with uranium mines say even the US$ 23 million estimate appeared surprisingly low.
- The Utah state regulator stopped inspections at the abandoned Dunn uranium mine - in spite of remaining mine openings and missing reclamation. On the other hand, the state closed openings of several abandoned mines near Moab.
- In Texas, the reclamation of the abandoned Brown uranium mine was completed.
- Residents near the former Aldama uranium mill in Mexico are still exposed to excessive radionuclide concentrations in dust, a study found.
- The cause of the mysterious sleeping sickness that plagued residents of two villages in Kazakhstan was identified as carbon monoxide exhalation from the former Krasnogorsk uranium mine. The local authorities decided to move both villages to a safer location.
- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) set up a new fund for remediation of the legacy of Soviet-era uranium mining and processing in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
- In Kyrgyzstan, a project was launched, supported by the European Union, to assess environmental impact of former uranium production facilities at Shekaftar and Min-Kush.
- Australia's Environment Protection Authority ordered the state of New South Wales to clean up contaminated homes at the former Hunters Hill uranium mill site. However, the cleanup was delayed for another four years, as the cost has almost doubled.
In the USA:
- groundwater cleanup problems at U.S. uranium mill tailings sites:
- In addition to Radium-226 and Radium-228, now also selenium exceeds the alternate concentration limits in groundwater at the Shirley Basin South uranium mill tailings disposal site in Wyoming. The selenium concentrations have been following a general upward trend since 2010.
- After the failure of the natural flushing strategy at the Gunnison uranium mill tailings site in Colorado, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) now evaluates other options for groundwater restoration.
- The U.S. NRC approved United Nuclear's requests for relaxed groundwater protection standards at the Church Rock uranium mill and tailings site in New Mexico.
- A sharp increase of groundwater contaminants was observed in a monitoring well at the Ambrosia Lake Title I uranium mill tailings site in New Mexico.
- Residual contamination exceeded limits at the Section 4 Ponds area of Quivira Mining's former Ambrosia Lake Mill Facility in New Mexico.
- An environmental group filed an objection against the increased groundwater abstraction for the remediation of the groundwater contaminant plume at Homestake's Grants uranium mill tailings site in New Mexico.
- At the former Monticello uranium mill tailings site in Utah, the natural attenuation groundwater remediation scheme remained ineffective, confirming the need for active groundwater remediation.
- other USA decommissioning issues:
- The remaining US$ 16 million reclamation costs for the ANC Gas Hills uranium mill tailings site in Wyoming are not covered by the reclamation bond that the company forfeited to the state in 1994.
- In the matter of the decommissioning of the Split Rock uranium mill tailings site in Wyoming, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seems to be absolutely determined to make a fool of itself: In a striking move, the NRC said in January that "it does not appear" that it ever approved Western Nuclear's plan to prohibit groundwater use from private wells adjacent to the tailings site, once the contaminant plume will have reached those in the future. With this plan, the company intended to avoid any tedious groundwater cleanup. And, in September, due to various levels of "confusion", the NRC refrained from issuing enforcement actions over two violations: the failure to obtain approval for the indirect transfer of control to Freeport-McMoRan in beforehand, and exceedences of groundwater protection standards.
- A New Mexico state court jury ruled in an unprecedented verdict that an insurer must pay United Nuclear Corp. US$ 9.6 million for the cleanup of the Northeast Church Rock uranium mine in New Mexico.
- The Moab uranium mill tailings relocation project in Utah has slowed slightly after a rockslide happened in November 2014.
- The U.S. Justice Department announced that it has awarded more than US$ 2 billion in compassionate compensation to eligible claimants under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). These claimants include former uranium miners, among others.
In Central/South America:
- Argentina's Auditor General's Office denounced the lack of progress in the management of the environmental liabilities at the Sierra Pintada uranium mine in Mendoza.
- Residents complained about the lack of progress with the reclamation of the Los Gigantes uranium mine in Córdoba, Argentina - 25 years after mining ceased.
- Residents of an informal settlement at the radioactive mine waste dump in Krugersdorp in South Africa after years are still waiting for their relocation.
- In Germany, the reclamation of the former Wismut uranium mining operations is nearing completion, but a number of tasks remain to be done, in particular at legacy sites not covered by the federal cleanup programme:
- The legacy mixed waste rock pile Collmberghalde in Dresden, Germany, is to be reclaimed from 2016.
- Wismut starts the partial reclamation of the Freital No. 4 legacy tailings pond near Dresden, Germany.
- The cover of Wismut's waste rock pile No. 366 near Aue, Germany, slumped again, after a similar event had occured at the same place 7 years earlier.
- Seepage from Wismut's Helmsdorf uranium tailings deposit in Germany is decreasing, as the construction of the cover is nearing completion.
- In a shocking revelation, Wismut announced that the long-term management of the legacy of uranium mining in Germany requires another EUR 2.1 billion - in addition to the EUR 6.5 million for the federal cleanup programme and the millions spent for a number of legacy sites not included in the federal programme.
- other European decommissioning issues:
- The Czech government allocated another US$ 190 million in the next three years for the groundwater cleanup at the former Stráž uranium in situ leach site in Northern Bohemia.
- Dismantling of the surface facilities at the former Hamr uranium mine in Northern Bohemia, Czech Republic, continued with the demolition of the landmark pit-head frame.
- Plans for processing of the largest uranium waste rock pile at Příbram in Western Bohemia, Czech Republic, into building material were stopped after local protests.
- In Bulgaria, uranium concentrations in stream water and sediment still show a three-fold increase downstream former uranium mining sites.
- Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) seeks funding from its parent company Rio Tinto for the rehabilitation of the Ranger uranium mine, as ERA has set insufficient funds aside.
- An international cohort study found an association between protracted low-dose radiation exposure and leukemia among nuclear workers, and it moreover confirmed the Linear No-Threshold model for low dose rates.
- After scientists had first raised serious concerns in 2013 over the latest increase of WHO's drinking-water guideline for uranium to 30 micrograms per litre, criticism continued this year by exposing the inconsistency of WHO's chemical and radiological guidelines for uranium in drinking water. Scientists now even called their peers and governments to establish independent recommendations.
In the USA:
- Canada issued an exemption from its foreign ownership policy for Paladin Energy's Michelin project in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In South/Central America:
- The U.S. EPA issued a proposed rule on groundwater protection standards for uranium in situ leach mining for comment. The NGO Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) welcomed the long-sought safeguards for in situ leach uranium mining, but called for improvements.
- In response to a petition for rulemaking, the U.S. NRC invited comment on a request to replace the Linear No-Threshold model for radiation effects by radiation hormesis (= radiation is good for you) model (!)
- The U.S. NRC also invited comment on a proposed reassessment of its Dollar per person-rem conversion factor policy.
- The U.S. NRC issued a final Interim Staff Guidance to relax standards for acute intake of uranium by workers in accident scenarios.
- The Sage Grouse, a bird that habitates areas used for uranium mining in the Western U.S., was denied Endangered Species status.
- Bolivia's government has ruled out pursuing uranium production and decided to focus instead on the industrial development of its vast lithium reserves.
- As the opening of Tanzania's first uranium mine comes closer, an IAEA mission urged Tanzania to establish an independent regulatory body for radiation safety.
- The independent radiation laboratory CRIIRAD opposed French government plans to issue a decree that would allow radon concentrations up to 300 Bq/m3 in homes that are impacted from former uranium mines. Such concentrations would cause doses of 10 - 20 mSv/a to inhabitants, 10 - 20 times the applicable 1 mSv/a standard.
Uranium trade and transport
- In Germany, protests against uranium transports on Hapag Lloyd ships were held in ten cities. The Bonn City Council adopted a resolution against uranium transports across the city.
- In France, a protest was held in Narbonne against the rail transport of uranium ore concentrate to the Malvési conversion plant.
- An Australian parliament committee put tough condition on the planned uranium sale to India and demanded to defer it, but the Australian Government dismissed the committee recommendation. After finalizing the nuclear cooperation agreements in November, Australian uranium exports to India and the United Arab Emirates can start immediately.
- The first Canadian uranium shipment was to arrive in India in December.
- Kazakhstan announced to supply India with 5,000 tonnes of uranium.
Foreign exploration and mining investment and cooperation
- Exploration tenements near the Honeymoon mine in South Australia were awarded to a Russian state-owned company, in spite of the current uranium export ban to Russia.
- The Armenian-Russian uranium joint venture was liquidated.
- Sudan said Russian firms will have priority in uranium extraction contracts.
- A Chinese company showed interest in "processing" of abandoned Kyrgyz uranium mill tailings and more.
- Areva opened the possibility of a minority stake buy by Chinese-government owned China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC).
- China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN) signed an agreement with Kazatomprom on a uranium mining joint venture in Kazakhstan.
- China's CGN Mining Co Ltd bought an interest in the developer of the Patterson Lake South uranium deposit in Saskatchewan.
- In Western Australia, the state Minister for Mines and Petroleum allowed uranium exploration in the backyard of reluctant mining tycoon Andrew Forrest, overturning a Mining Warden's decision. Subsequently, Forrest filed more mineral exploration applications near his backyard - to protect it from other miners?
- In France, an Appeals Court dismissed Areva's legal action against an anti-nuclear activist. In 2014, a Paris court had condemned the NGO Observatoire du nucléaire to pay penalties of several thousand Euros for "defamation" of Areva in a 2012 press release titled "Nuclear/corruption: AREVA offers a plane to the President of Niger...". So, in the end, the Appeals Court apparently shared the surprise we expressed in last year's review: "how can it ever be possible to defame a company that has 181 entries in its Hall of Infamy on the WISE Uranium website?"
- But meanwhile, even Areva appears to be annoyed at its ever growing Hall of Infamy: in September, Areva invited contributions to the Responsible Development Report 2015 on its mining activities!
- In these confusing times, it even seems reasonable that Cameco, the uranium mining company that is accused of tax evasion, now offers an Ethics Hotline...
> See also: