Saturday, April 01, 2006

Nuclear madness

Uranium prices may surge as much as 45% to $US58 a pound by mid next year according to the AFR. There is an international boom in use of nuclear fuels for power generation. Yet state branches of the Australian Labor Party refuse to allow new sources of uranium exports, for example, from Western Australia.

As the International Herald Tribune points out:
Australia has about 37% of the world's known low-cost uranium resources, worth about $100 billion (Aust)….yet it lags Canada as a producer….
Last year Australia exported a record 12,360 metric tons of uranium ore, valued at $573 million, the government estimates. Uranium prices have surged almost four-fold since 2003 as demand increases from countries like China, yet no new mines are being developed in Australia because of bans by state governments.
China needs non-greenhouse-polluting polluting uranium to expand its industrial use of energy and Australia should supply it. The ALP Neanderthals are starting to rethink, if not out of any sense of commercial reality then because they understand this continued stance will mean well-justified electoral oblivion. Even the Green movement is pulling its head out of its posterior and recognising the global environmental values of switching to nuclear options.

We should improve our economy and the global environment by removing constraints on the development of new uranium mines in Australia.


conrad said...

I agree. I also think it is crazy that Australia is willing to sell Uranium to India but not China, unless the argument is that China already has enough nuclear weapons making more is pointless.

How about a post on what to realistically do with the waste, (particularily with respect to countries that don't have geologically decent places it store it) ?

I think is a much tougher question, and one that deserves an answer from countries like Australia and Canada.

hc said...

China has plenty of its oewn supplies to make weapons. It does not have enough to fuel its power needs.

The issue of waste disposal applies to existing uranium exports as much as current ones and can be covered by export license agreements. Why not export the wastes to geologically stable central Australia and store there.?

Extra revenue and we help ensure a viable market for a valuable export. Oh, yes, the crazy state-based not-in-my-backyard hysteria? That's harder?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, do it for our kids-kids-kids-kids-kids-kids.
On ya Harry!

Anonymous said...

On ya Australia, not only do we wish to lead the world in the export and use of fossil fuel(s) and emissions we now want to lead the world in providing the most toxic fuel of all, just fanatastic.

Van Heel said...

It sounds like a rational idea Harry. Certainly, China will probably not have any problem in obtaining all the Uranium it needs for power generation - the question is how conveniently it can do it. But, obviously, what you are stating is that, by selling some Uranium to China whilst it is searching for it, you can ensure that Australia at least reaps some of the economic dividends from doing so. Any proliferation issues could easily be dealt with by only supplying limited types of nuclear material that can only find application within power generation, so this shouldn't be an issue. For any country, even small ones like Japan that might not have their own access to natural ores and resources, the main constraint upon developing nuclear power seems to be the technical manpower needed for nuclear power rather than just the natural resources needed for it.

Actually, I'm quite surprised - what stops the Australians from mining more of their Uranium for their own energy producing needs? Nuclear power plant design has become far safer, and, in a place like Australia, nuclear would avoid greenhouse gas emissions, etc....

However, I have to admit, I'm not a terrific fan of nuclear. Australia would do better by exporting solar power plants (they are cheaper, and don't result in petty civilians complaining about the remote possibilities of 'meltdown', 'noooklear danger', and so on and so forth). Still, one problem with Solar power is that it has a habit of kicking out when it starts raining. Oh dear...