Monday, November 4, 2013

Massive coal mine approved in Qld - The West Australian

Gina Rinehart's Kevin's Corner coal project Approved

 coal mine approved in Qld - The West Australian

On Monday, 13 water science experts urged Mr Hunt to reject any mining proposals that would adversely impact water supplies.
They said mining and coal seam gas extraction could damage aquifers, rivers and water catchments.
Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane said Kevin's Corner stood to not only improve living standards for millions of people in India, but also open up one of the world's most exciting new coal provinces.
"GVK is to be congratulated for its commitment to this project in the toughest operating environment that the Queensland coal industry has faced this century," he said in a statement.


  1. The Australian really is our answer to Fox News - should be interesting as the rhetoric Vs reality conflict continues.


    IPCC this century's 'Chicken Little'

    MINING industry veteran Hugh Morgan has further inflamed the climate change debate by claiming that the world's climate scientists will be remembered in a similar vein to the "Chicken Little" theorists who published the apocalyptic tome The Limits to Growth more than 40 years ago. The long-time climate change sceptic said the intensity of the debate on global warming made it timely to consider the impact of the 1972 book published by the Club of Rome, which sold 12 million copies and was translated into 37 languages.

    The Club of Rome - a group of mostly European scientists and academics - used computer modelling to warn that the world would run out of commodities, including gold, mercury, silver, tin, zinc, petroleum, copper, lead, oil and natural gas, within 30 years.

    The book captured the public's imagination by warning of the "sudden and uncontrollable collapse" of economic life.

    Mr Morgan, the former chief executive of Western Mining Corporation, told The Australian: "The book illustrates the dangers of academics talking about things they know nothing about.

    "The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) will be remembered in the same way as the Club of Rome for its 'Chicken Little' approach.

    "Mr Morgan's comments came as former Commonwealth Bank and Future Fund chairman David Murray suggested last week that the world's climate scientists lacked integrity, prompting an angry response from a leading body representing scientists.

    Mr Murray told the ABC's Lateline program that the "climate problem" had been overstated by IPCC scientists and he would be convinced that man-made climate change was real only "when I see some evidence of integrity amongst the scientists themselves"...........


    Planning changes good news for big coal projects

    PLANNING regulations for mine approvals in NSW are being overhauled, making economic benefits a primary consideration and dramatically skewing the process in favour of big projects.

    With the decision to press ahead with the changes, state Minister for Mineral Resources Chris Hartcher said potential investment and employment benefits for communities would be important in deciding on major mining projects.The changes do not apply to coal-seam gas or extractive industries such as quarries.

    Mr Hartcher called the new criteria a "balance" of factors and said they would provide certainty for investors and the community. "The assessment of major mining projects has always been about balance and these amendments give extra clarity and guidance for decision-makers," he said.

    "Potential environmental and other impacts will continue to be key factors in the assessment of mining projects, with a number of strict criteria imposed for issues like air quality, water impacts and noise.

    " The new state environmental planning policy follows the victory of the small town of Bulga in the Hunter Valley, which won a court case last April preventing Rio's Mount Thorley Warkworth coalmine from expanding its operation around the town.

    It was the first time a NSW court had overturned a major mining approval for an extension of an existing open-cut mine.

    Coalpac has also had its application for an extension of its mine near the Gardens of Stone National Park near Lithgow, west of Sydney, refused.....

  2. Push to end fishing by indigenous 'outlaws'

    THE federal government is on the verge of securing a moratorium on indigenous hunting of turtles and dugongs at some of the Great Barrier Reef's most picturesque tourist destinations. Tourism operators and conservationists have stepped up calls for the practice, enshrined by native title, to be stopped in protected sea areas called "green zones", such as the waters surrounding Green Island and Michaelmas Cay, both off Cairns.Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises general manager of operations Steve Davies said he had seen rogue hunters kill turtles, dugongs and giant clams in front of startled tourists.

    "The amount of wildlife that's been taken out of Green Island is completely unsustainable . . . there's an exclusion around the island for anyone except an indigenous hunter," Mr Davies said.

    A photographer for The Australian spotted a group of indigenous fishermen in a dinghy near Green Island last week. While some, including Mr Davies and conservationist Bob Irwin, are pushing for an amendment to the Native Title Act to outlaw fishing and hunting in green zones, it is understood the federal government is working closely with indigenous communities to negotiate moratoriums by consent.Environment Minister Greg Hunt met three groups of traditional owners and indigenous leaders, including the Turtle and Dugong Taskforce, in Cairns last week.

    "They stressed the need for enforcement powers and support to help stop illegal poaching of turtles and dugongs," a spokesman for Mr Hunt told The Australian.

    "They will also help in rapidly working towards a moratorium in taking turtles in the Green Island and Michaelmas Cay areas. The issue is not resolved yet but it is significant progress with deep indigenous assistance."He also met Mr Irwin and anti-hunting activist Colin Riddell.

    Mr Hunt will meet representatives from Yarrabah, the closest community to Green Island, in coming weeks.

    Yarrabah traditional owner Vincent Schreiber said his tribal lore prohibited hunters from taking turtles and dugongs from places such as Green Island, but he acknowledged that some ignored the principle. "These are the outlaws . . . we're trying to crack down on that," he said.

    "We're working with different government agencies to try and make it a punishable offence. We'll come down hard by confiscating boats and cars.

    "He said Yarrabah was devising a land and sea management plan, which would recognise the important cultural significance of hunting, as well as environmental requirements.

  3. Uranium plunge clouds outlook

    JUST as one quarterly report hit the screen proclaiming uranium was at a new eight-year low, the spot price promptly shed another US50c -- and thus was born an even newer eight-year low. Spot uranium sank to $US34.75 a pound during the week, a long way from the record $US136/lb it hit in 2007 during the yellowcake frenzy.

    Then we had about 260 listed companies that each boasted at least one uranium project. Now we are left with the brave few.In this space exactly a year ago, we took a relatively upbeat view of the sector.

    Australia had finally begun uranium sale talks with India (the new federal government may sign the deal by year's end) and the new Queensland government had lifted its uranium mining ban.Wisely, this column said it was too early to make the call that the uranium market had bottomed, but that at least the remaining players in the sector were upbeat. Ditto for this month: still too early, and the brave are still battling on.And, if the price falls close to $US30/lb, defeatism could emerge.

    The quarterly report mentioned above came from Manhattan Corp (MHC), which has an inferred 7800 tonnes of uranium at its Ponton deposit in Western Australia. It's run by Alan Eggers, who seems never to tire of arguing uranium's story.

    He built Summit Resources (SMM), which has JORC resources in Queensland totalling 47,500 tonnes of U3O8, into a $1.2 billion company. In 2007, Paladin Energy (PDN) took an 82 per cent stake. Eggers's quarterly runs down all the reasons uranium has such a solid future: it cites the 70 nuclear plants under construction, China doubling capacity over last year and this year, and then doubling again by 2015. .......

  4. The West.


    Chevron puts Gorgon on hold

    Chevron has confirmed an expansion of the Gorgon LNG project is on hold until the joint venture knows how much the three-train start-up development on Barrow Island is going to cost.

    And, highlighting the enormity of Gorgon's cost pressures, Chevron warned a fourth train was no longer a certainty, despite the attraction of such a brownfields development, and needed to complete with "other opportunities that we have got in our (global) portfolio".

    Chevron chief financial officer Pat Yarrington said that though the Gorgon joint venture, which includes ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, remained keen on eventually building a fourth train to expand the foundation project's 15.6 million-tonne-a-year LNG capacity, "everybody wants to get an understanding of the cost structure".

    "We are all interested certainly in seeing this (Train 4) continue to progress," Ms Yarrington told investors during a conference call in the US on Friday night.

    "I think all of the JV partners are interested, though, in seeing Train 1 come up and seeing progress on 2 and 3 et cetera.

    "I also think it's fair to say that the cost structure in Australia is different now than it was when (a final investment decision on) Train 1 was taken (in 2009).

    "The cost structure has elevated. And I think it's fair to say that that has put at risk some of Australia's global competitiveness."

    Ms Yarrington said Chevron was still finalising next year's budget and, in response to a question about Gorgon's schedule, said "should there be any reviews during that that suggest a material change, other than what we said previously, we will certainly bring that to your attention".

    It is expected Chevron will announce another budget blowout for Gorgon.

    Two months ago _WestBusiness _ reported that Chevron had asked its Gorgon team to "value-engineer" after internal estimates put the project's cost at as much as $US59 billion. Chevron has refused to discuss the report.

    Last December, Chevron used the announcement of its year-ahead group capital expenditure budget to confirm Gorgon's cost had risen from $US37 billion to $US52 billion. Its annual investor conference in March is another appropriate time for it to update shareholders on project costs.
    The Gorgon and Io-Jansz fields contain enough gas to support a fourth LNG train but ExxonMobil and Shell, in particular, are understood to be concerned about the cost.

  5. SMH.


    'Uncertainty' in gas project

    Chevron, the operator of the $52 billion Gorgon natural gas venture in Western Australia, says some ''uncertainties'' remain in the construction of the project after its budget last year jumped 21 per cent.

    Some areas of construction ''still need to improve'' after Gorgon costs surged on gains in the Australian dollar, higher labour expenses and weather delays, Chevron chief financial officer Pat Yarrington said late on Friday.

    Labour productivity at Gorgon, located on Barrow Island off north-western Australia, had increased, she said.

    Chevron, the second-largest US oil producer by market value, was completing its budget for the year and would inform investors of any potential cost changes, she said.

    Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil are partners in Gorgon, which Ms Yarrington said was more than 70 per cent complete.

    ''Productivity, I would say, is improving on all fronts, but there are still some areas that still need to improve,'' she said. ''We are moving into a critical phase from a schedule standpoint on the project.''


    Chinalco says mining boom has decades to run

    One of China's top corporate officials has reassured Australian miners the process of urbanisation in the Asian nation has several decades to run and will continue stoking strong demand for minerals.

    In words that will comfort Australia's massive iron ore export industry, Chinalco boss Xiong Weiping said about 52 per cent of Chinese people lived in urban areas and that rate had been increasing about 1 per cent each year.

    ''Based on this speed, urbanisation will continue to boost China's domestic demand for at least 30 years before it reaches the rate of 80 per cent,'' he said.

    Speaking at a Melbourne Mining Club event in Beijing, Mr Xiong said China's demand for minerals had traditionally been higher than the nation's overall economic growth, which meant demand for minerals and commodities should be stronger than the expected growth rate of 7.5 per cent in coming years.

    ''If China's future GDP growth stands at 7.5 per cent, the growth rate of China's demand for minerals will be above 7.5 per cent,'' he said.

    ''It's worth mentioning that China will enter a key stage of accelerating industrialisation and urbanisation in the next 10 years and even longer, when the demand for mineral resources will continue to be strong.

    ''All international mining companies should grasp these rare opportunities in China's mining industry and make the best of it.''

    The comments come after a year of debate in Australia about the mortality of the ''China mining boom'', with some such as former prime minister Kevin Rudd declaring the lucrative phase to be over.

  6. The Guardian.


    BHP Billiton scraps plans for new coal port at Abbot Point in Queensland

    Company is also abandoning a proposed rail line that would have taken coal from the mines

    BHP Billiton has scrapped plans to build a major new coal port on the Queensland coast, as a new report warns that the state’s haste to expand existing ports is misguided and could result in job losses.

    BHP said it has pulled out as developer of terminal two at the Abbot Point port, near the Queensland town of Bowen, as well as an accompanying rail line that would have taken coal from mines to be exported.

    The $5bn plan, which would have transferred up to 60m tonnes of coal a year to Abbot Point for export, was expected to begin in 2015. But BHP put the development on ice in September and has now abandoned the idea.

    “Formal relinquishment of the right to develop T2 has now been agreed with North Queensland Bulk and the company will formally withdraw from related regulatory applications,” a BHP spokeswoman said.

    The decision was taken against a backdrop of falling global coal prices and existing port capacity at Hay Point.

    A report by the Centre for Policy Development has found there is an excess of port capacity along the Queensland coast, raising concerns that the push to expand ports at Abbot Point, Gladstone and Townsville could put the state “at risk of stranded assets in the long term”.

    The study found coal ports to be operating at 65% of capacity, 20% lower than the long-term industry average.

    It stated that investment banks such as Goldman Sachs were “losing confidence” in Australian coal investments, with the international coal price dropping 22% since 2010.

    According to the report, many of Queensland’s proposed projects require a coal price of $120 a tonne to be viable. The current price is about $77, with the World Bank forecasting a $70-a-tonne average until 2020.

    Laura Eadie, author of the report, said the Queensland government was stuck in “boom time thinking” by pushing to pare back environmental approval times and approve further ports.

    “The government seems to expect quite significant exports, which is opposed to the view of rational listed coal investors,” she told Guardian Australia. “China is capping coal consumption by 2015, which is significant as it has been the main driver of coal export growth.

    “If Queensland goes ahead and develops and dredges Abbot Point, it may all be for nothing. There is a risk of stranded assets, job losses and royalty shortfalls.

    “There is enough coal port capacity until at least 2017. It’s unlikely that there will be further capacity required until 2020, so the question is, why the rush? The Queensland government has the time to plan this properly in an environmentally sensitive way.”

    In June, Unesco warned that the Great Barrier Reef will be placed on the World Heritage “in danger’ list unless development alongside the ecosystem is restricted to existing ports, with any expansion careful to not damage the reef.

    Environmentalists warn that dredging and dumping of seabed to expand ports will significantly harm marine life. There are also concerns that increased shipping through the reef will cause harm, although most scientists point to the impact of chemical run-off, severe weather events, a plague of coral-eating starfish and climate change as the main threats.

  7. Al Gore: world is on brink of 'carbon bubble'

    Gore and partner David Blood call on companies to 'do their fiduciary duty' and identify carbon risks in their portfolios

    The world is on the brink of the "largest bubble ever" in finance, because of the undisclosed value of high-carbon assets on companies' balance sheets, and investment managers who fail to take account of the risks are failing in their fiduciary duty to shareholders and investors, Al Gore and his investment partner, David Blood, have said.

    "Stranded carbon assets" such as coal mines, fossil fuel power stations and petrol-fuelled vehicle plants represent at least $7tn on the books of publicly listed companies, and about twice as much again is owned by private companies, state governments and sovereign wealth funds.

    As the danger from climate change intensifies, and as rules on carbon and the introduction of carbon pricing in many parts of the world start to bite, these assets are expected to come under threat, from regulation and from the need to transform the economy on to a low-carbon footing. The "carbon bubble" has been identified by leading thinkers on climate change in recent years, but so far the findings have had little real effect on investor behaviour.

    Now Gore and Blood, the former US vice-president and ex-chief executive of Goldman Sachs, who are partners in the Generation Investment Management firm, have brought forward a four-point plan that they say will protect future investors. They are calling on companies, investors and regulators to identify the carbon risks in their portfolios; to demand of company managers and boards that the risks should be publicly disclosed; to diversify their investment portfolios to include low-carbon infrastructure such as renewable energy and electric vehicles; and finally to take their money out of fossil fuels and other high-carbon assets, or turn them into low-carbon assets - for instance, by installing carbon capture and storage units on power stations.

    Gore told the Guardian: "This is potentially the largest bubble ever. If investors look in clear-eyed, traditional risk management way, they can be in time to avoid it." He said it was not feasible to wait for a global agreement on climate change, on the lines of the Kyoto protocol which he helped to forge in 1997, but that investors must take action sooner. He urged individual investors to demand that their pension companies or fund managers should seek to evaluate their exposure to carbon risk.

    The highest carbon assets such as tar sands and dirty coal represent the highest immediate risk, but other infrastructure such as transport and construction is also involved.

    If the risks associated with high-carbon assets are not taken into account, Gore warned, the consequences for other assets - in a decade or more - could be dire. Those assets include "real estate, agricultural land and infrastructure" that is all at risk from the effects of climate change, and the value of which could plummet as the effects are increasingly felt in the form of floods, droughts and storms.

    Gore compared the carbon bubble to the financial crisis of 2007-08, when the owners of assets such as sub-prime mortgages and credit agreements that were suddenly found to be worthless were "embarrassed that they did not see what was blindingly obvious in retrospect".

  8. Tories hire Lynton Crosby full-time

    Australian political strategist who had been advising David Cameron part-time joins re-election bid in £500,000 deal

    David Cameron has signed up the Australian election guru Lynton Crosby to work full-time on securing a Tory general election victory in a £500,000 deal.

    As well as bolstering the input from the Australian strategist, the lucrative contract secures polling services from his Sydney-based business partner Mark Textor, who was in London last week, and support from a team of staff.

    The prime minister recruited the man credited with Boris Johnson's ballot box successes at last year's London mayoral election to work part-time on boosting Tory re-election prospects and the refreshed deal signals that the party is shifting its 2015 preparations up a gear.

    A senior Tory told the Mail on Sunday: "We are thrilled to have Lynton. Labour hates him because they know he gets results."

    Crosby was closely associated with the Tories' failed crime and immigration-centred 2005 campaign under Michael Howard and former deputy party chairman Lord Ashcroft warned that the man known as the Wizard of Oz for his multiple successes in Australian elections was a "recipe for … conflict and confusion".

    But Johnson had urged the prime minister to "break the piggy bank" to get him on board.

    Crosby has since been the focus of intense media scrutiny amid claims that his lobbying firm posed a conflict of interest with his role as a key aide to Cameron.


    Top US climate scientists support development of safe nuclear power

    Open letter to environmentalists and world leaders says wind and solar power are not enough to diminish carbon emissions

    Some of the world's top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won't be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they're asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.

    Four scientists who have played a key role in alerting the public to the dangers of climate change sent letters Sunday to leading environmental groups and politicians around the world. The letter, an advance copy of which was given to the Associated Press, urges a crucial discussion on the role of nuclear power in fighting climate change.

    The letter signers are James Hansen, a former top NASA scientist; Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution; Kerry Emanuel, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Tom Wigley, of the University of Adelaide in Australia.

    Environmentalists agree that global warming is a threat to ecosystems and humans, but many oppose nuclear power and believe that new forms of renewable energy will be able to power the world within the next few decades. That isn't realistic, the letter said.

    "Those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough" to deliver the amount of cheap and reliable power the world needs, and "with the planet warming and carbon dioxide emissions rising faster than ever, we cannot afford to turn away from any technology" that has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases.

    Hansen began publishing research on the threat of global warming more than 30 years ago, and his testimony before Congress in 1988 helped launch a mainstream discussion. Last February he was arrested in front of the White House at a climate protest that included the head of the Sierra Club and other activists.