Friday, November 22, 2013

Vic fracking ban continues - Weekly Times Now

Vic fracking ban continues - Weekly Times Now

Energy and Resources Minister Nicholas Kotsiras will then conduct a 12-month community consultation program with relevant stakeholders ahead of a final report to be released in July 2015.

Dr Napthine said it was imperative that onshore gas mining have no impact on underground water supplies and aquifers.

"We will never, ever allow onshore gas if it jeopardises our underground water, if it jeopardises our environment and if it jeopardises food and agriculture production,'' he told reporters in Melbourne this morning.

Dr Napthine said the moratorium on fracking "will be continued for the foreseeable future and until at least June 2015 when the community consultation will be completed''.

Legislation will also be introduced to ban the use of the controversial BTEX chemicals in Victoria.


  1. Deals at Climate Meeting Advance Global Effort

    WARSAW — Two weeks of United Nations climate talks ended Saturday with a pair of last-minute deals keeping alive the hope that a global effort can ward off a ruinous rise in temperatures.

    Delegates agreed to the broad outlines of a proposed system for pledging emissions cuts and gave their support for a new treaty mechanism to tackle the human cost of rising seas, floods, stronger storms and other expected effects of global warming.

    The measures added momentum to the talks as United Nations members look toward a 2015 conference in Paris to replace the moribund Kyoto Protocol.

    “I think this is what they needed to move the ball forward,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program at the World Resources Institute, “even if you can’t say that it provided a lot of new ambition.”


    The United States hailed the agreement on calculating emissions reductions, which was along lines proposed by Todd S. Stern, President Obama’s climate envoy. Mr. Stern had called for each nation to make a public offer early enough to be evaluated for the Paris summit meeting. He argued that peer pressure was the best hope for concerted action after the 2009 Copenhagen meeting showed a binding top-down approach could not succeed at the international level.

    Conflicts between rich nations, led by the United States and European Union, and developing nations, led by China, India and Brazil, had stalled progress and threatened to scuttle the conference altogether. Negotiations ended a full day later than originally planned, and delegates, who had gone days with little sleep, were nodding exhaustedly in their seats well before the end of the day on Saturday.

    The language grew heated at times by diplomatic standards, with Mr. Stern on Saturday reminding China that it had agreed two years ago that climate action would be “applicable to all parties,” and expressing surprise “that China would be assuming no commitments under the future agreement.” Lead negotiators eventually worked out compromise language — changing the word “commitments” to “contributions” — for 2015 to allow some wiggle room.

    The deal Saturday came less than a year before a “climate summit” of leaders called by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for September in New York, where world leaders will be asked to show progress on cutting emissions in the full glare of the United States and the world news media.

    Despite relief that a Copenhagen-type failure was averted, treaty members remain far from any serious, concerted action to cut emissions. And developing nations complained that promises of financial help remain unmet.


    Wind Energy Company to Pay $1 Million in Bird Deaths

    A subsidiary of the company, Duke Energy Renewables, pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Wyoming on Friday to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law that protects migratory birds. The company was charged with killing 14 golden eagles and dozens of other birds at two wind projects in Wyoming since 2009.

    In a plea agreement, the company said it would pay the fines to several conservation groups, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The company must also put a plan in place to prevent bird deaths in the future, federal officials said.

    “In this plea agreement, Duke Energy Renewables acknowledges that it constructed these wind projects in a manner it knew beforehand would likely result in avian deaths,” Robert G. Dreher, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division, said in a statement.

  2. Department of Defense Releases Arctic Strategy Document

    The document mentions twice the need to work with the Arctic Council, stating the council has a demonstrated ability to address a range of “soft security” issues, such as search and rescue and oil spill response.

    Alaska Natives are referenced in a sentence stating consultation and coordination with them on policy will take place when appropriate.

    The document identifies challenges such as funding cuts to DOD that may impact future infrastructure and response needs and taking care to not appear too aggressive in addressing anticipated security risks to avoid the perception that the arctic is being militarized, which could cause friction with other nations.


    The Pentagon Unveils Its First Strategy For The Arctic

    Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in September plans to reestablish a Soviet-era base in the Arctic to patrol the Northern Sea route, which has become increasingly navigable.

    The US military’s Arctic strategy, which was released Friday afternoon, states the United States will “exercise sovereignty” and preserve freedom of navigation across the area.

    “The department will preserve the global mobility of United States military and civilian vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic, including through the exercise of the Freedom of Navigation program to challenge excessive maritime claims asserted by other Arctic states when necessary,” the strategy document said.

    However, the Pentagon described the region as representing “a relatively low level of military threat” where countries had displayed a willingness to uphold international law.

    The document warned against promoting a high-profile for the US military in the region that could trigger escalating rivalries with other armies.

    “There is some risk that the perception that the Arctic is being militarized may lead to an ‘arms race’ mentality,” it said.

    Instead, the Pentagon would pursue “collaborative security approaches” with other states to preempt potential tensions.

    Hagel did not propose spending on new ships or hardware designed to withstand the Arctic, saying the strategy would unfold over years and not months.

    But the strategy document acknowledged pressure on the Pentagon’s budget could derail plans for new equipment or training.

    “Fiscal constraints may delay or deny needed investment in Arctic capabilities and may curtail Arctic training and operations,” it said.

    Hagel noted the United States has 22,000 troops stationed in Alaska, along with 5,000 National Guard and reserves, as well as ski-equipped C-130 cargo aircraft and nuclear submarines that have operated in polar regions for “more than five decades.”

    1. US Eyes Increase In Arctic Operations

      HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — The U.S. military is looking for ways to expand operations in the vast waters of the Arctic as melting ice caps open sea lanes and other nations such as Russia compete for the lucrative oil and gas deposits.

      But the effort will take money and resources to fill the broad gaps in satellite and communications coverage, add deep-water ports and buy more ships that can withstand the frigid waters or break through the ice. There are no cost or budget estimates yet.

      But by the end of this year, the Navy will complete plans that lay out what the U.S. needs to do to increase communications, harden ships and negotiate international agreements so that nations will be able to track traffic in the Arctic and conduct search-and-rescue missions when needed.

      En route to a security conference here Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said climate change, energy resources and security issues revolving around the Arctic will continue to grow in importance, particularly as the melting ice opens a new polar sea lane.

      "That's going to give many new opportunities to countries, to the world," Hagel told reporters traveling with him to the conference where the Arctic was expected to be a topic of discussion. "That will come with new challenges as well. So the United States needs to be very active in this group and be very involved."


      U.S. officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits. Until recently, however, areas that could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues were frozen over and unreachable.

      Experts now say the Arctic waters could see largely ice-free summers as early as 2030, and there could be ice-free conditions for as long as a month by the mid-2020s. Ice-free means that about 10 percent of the water is ice-covered. Already, maritime traffic through the Bering Strait shot up by about 50 percent between 2005 and 2012.

      Last year, 483 ships moved through the strait, some picking up cargo in the Arctic and taking it out, others using icebreakers to travel across the Arctic through what's called the Northern Sea Route. Officials estimate they will continue to see a 10 to 20 percent increase each year in ship traffic through the region.


      Search-and-rescue operations could be in greater demand in the coming years as more cruise ships and smaller vessels sail into Arctic waters, giving patrons a close-up view of wildlife and icebergs. If a ship gets stuck or has a problem, U.S. officials say they need to be able to locate and talk to the ship's crew and have ways to deliver supplies or aid to those on board.

      The other key issue is the enormous amount of resources in the Arctic, including large stores of oil off the Alaska coast. In 2007, a Russian research ship placed a Russian flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole in a symbolic gesture.

      And just last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Arctic was essential for his country's economic and security interests. He noted that work was underway to restore a major Soviet-era military base on the New Siberian Islands that had been shut down.

      China has also joined the jousting, sending its first icebreaker ship through the Arctic last year, even though China doesn't abut Arctic territory.


    Which fossil fuel companies are most responsible for climate change? – interactive

    All but seven of the 90 companies found to have caused the climate crisis deal in oil, gas and coal – and half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years. Some of the top companies are also funding climate change denial campaigns

    Which companies caused global warming?
    A new paper shows which companies extracted the carbon-based fuels that have caused climate change.

     Hover and click to explore


    Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions

    Chevron, Exxon and BP among companies most responsible for climate change since dawn of industrial age, figures show

    The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

    The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms.

    The analysis, which was welcomed by the former vice-president Al Gore as a "crucial step forward" found that the vast majority of the firms were in the business of producing oil, gas or coal, found the analysis, which has been published in the journal Climatic Change.

    "There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world," climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado said. "But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two."

    Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change.

    Many of the same companies are also sitting on substantial reserves of fossil fuel which – if they are burned – puts the world at even greater risk of dangerous climate change.

    Climate change experts said the data set was the most ambitious effort so far to hold individual carbon producers, rather than governments, to account.

    The United Nations climate change panel, the IPCC, warned in September that at current rates the world stood within 30 years of exhausting its "carbon budget" – the amount of carbon dioxide it could emit without going into the danger zone above 2C warming. The former US vice-president and environmental champion, Al Gore, said the new carbon accounting could re-set the debate about allocating blame for the climate crisis.

    Leaders meeting in Warsaw for the UN climate talks this week clashed repeatedly over which countries bore the burden for solving the climate crisis – historic emitters such as America or Europe or the rising economies of India and China.

    Gore in his comments said the analysis underlined that it should not fall to governments alone to act on climate change.

    "This study is a crucial step forward in our understanding of the evolution of the climate crisis. The public and private sectors alike must do what is necessary to stop global warming," Gore told the Guardian. "Those who are historically responsible for polluting our atmosphere have a clear obligation to be part of the solution."

    Between them, the 90 companies on the list of top emitters produced 63% of the cumulative global emissions of industrial carbon dioxide and methane between 1751 to 2010, amounting to about 914 gigatonne CO2 emissions, according to the research. All but seven of the 90 were energy companies producing oil, gas and coal. The remaining seven were cement manufacturers.

  4. Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions

    The list of 90 companies included 50 investor-owned firms – mainly oil companies with widely recognised names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP , and Royal Dutch Shell and coal producers such as British Coal Corp, Peabody Energy and BHP Billiton.

    Some 31 of the companies that made the list were state-owned companies such as Saudi Arabia's Saudi Aramco, Russia's Gazprom and Norway's Statoil.

    Nine were government run industries, producing mainly coal in countries such as China, the former Soviet Union, North Korea and Poland, the host of this week's talks.

    Experts familiar with Heede's research and the politics of climate change said they hoped the analysis could help break the deadlock in international climate talks.

    "It seemed like maybe this could break the logjam," said Naomi Oreskes, professor of the history of science at Harvard. "There are all kinds of countries that have produced a tremendous amount of historical emissions that we do not normally talk about. We do not normally talk about Mexico or Poland or Venezuela. So then it's not just rich v poor, it is also producers v consumers, and resource rich v resource poor."

    Michael Mann, the climate scientist, said he hoped the list would bring greater scrutiny to oil and coal companies' deployment of their remaining reserves. "What I think could be a game changer here is the potential for clearly fingerprinting the sources of those future emissions," he said. "It increases the accountability for fossil fuel burning. You can't burn fossil fuels without the rest of the world knowing about it."


    "The challenge we face is to move in the space of not much more than a generation from a carbon-intensive energy system to a carbonneutral energy system. If we don't do that we stand no chance of keeping climate change within the 2C threshold," Ashton said.

    "By highlighting the way in which a relatively small number of large companies are at the heart of the current carbon-intensive growth model, this report highlights that fundamental challenge."

    Meanwhile, Oreskes, who has written extensively about corporate-funded climate denial, noted that several of the top companies on the list had funded the climate denial movement.

    "For me one of the most interesting things to think about was the overlap of large scale producers and the funding of disinformation campaigns, and how that has delayed action," she said.

    The data represents eight years of exhaustive research into carbon emissions over time, as well as the ownership history of the major emitters.

    The companies' operations spanned the globe, with company headquarters in 43 different countries. "These entities extract resources from every oil, natural gas and coal province in the world, and process the fuels into marketable products that are sold to consumers on every nation on Earth," Heede writes in the paper.

    The largest of the investor-owned companies were responsible for an outsized share of emissions. Nearly 30% of emissions were produced just by the top 20 companies, the research found.

    By Heede's calculation, government-run oil and coal companies in the former Soviet Union produced more greenhouse gas emissions than any other entity – just under 8.9% of the total produced over time. China came a close second with its government-run entities accounting for 8.6% of total global emissions.

    ChevronTexaco was the leading emitter among investor-owned companies, causing 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions to date, with Exxon not far behind at 3.2%. In third place, BP caused 2.5% of global emissions to date.

    The historic emissions record was constructed using public records and data from the US department of energy's Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Centre, and took account of emissions all along the supply chain.

    The centre put global industrial emissions since 1751 at 1,450 gigatonnes.


      Why are fossil fuel reserves growing? – interactive

      New data collated by Oil Change International (OCI) shows how global fossil fuel reserves are growing, while the world's remaining carbon budget is shrinking. As a result, the proportion of fossil fuel reserves that are 'unburnable' is growing quickly. The original version of this graphic was made by Kiln for OCI


      $200m cost to axe green fund

      Plans by the Abbott Government to scrap a multibillion-dollar fund set up to encourage renewable energy projects would cost the Federal Budget's bottom line $200 million a year, it was claimed yesterday.

      Clean Energy Finance Corporation chairwoman Jillian Broadbent warned ditching the $10 billion fund would make no sense because it was delivering material financial benefits.

      "It will cost the taxpayer more to shut down the CEFC than it will save," Ms Broadbent said.

      Her comments came as she gave evidence to a Federal parliamentary inquiry looking into the repeal of Labor's carbon tax and associated bodies such as the CEFC.

      The fund was set up as the vehicle through which the Government would fund or help pay for renewable energy projects including wind and solar farms and energy-efficiency schemes.

      According to Ms Broadbent, it had "developed a total portfolio of $536 million and, through its co-finance partners, invested in projects over $2.2 billion in value".

      She also said the fund was a money-maker, claiming that for every tonne of carbon its investments "abated", taxpayers reaped a reward of $2.40.
      It was expected to "abate" about 3.9 million tonnes of carbon a year.

  5. Jellyfish winning the fight for food - against humans

    When it comes to jellyfish on Australian beaches, getting stung may be the least of our worries.

    Earlier this year, Whyalla faced a wipe-out unrelated to the predicted effects of the carbon tax when a massive jellyfish bloom threatened local fisheries and ecosystems.

    Last month, the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in Sweden shut down a reactor after jellyfish clogged its seawater pipes, the latest in a series of similar incidents.

    ''Most people just don't have any idea about the havoc that jellyfish are causing,'' said Lisa-ann Gershwin, a CSIRO research scientist and author of Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean. ''It's right around Australia.''

    Deadly box jellyfish and their peanut-size irukandji relatives are spreading further south along the Queensland coast as waters warm, harming tourism.

    But a bigger threat is likely to come to fisheries in much cooler waters that are already being crowded out by blooms, many

    of them non-stinging jellies.

    Virtually everything humans do to the biosphere seems to be to the advantage of jellyfish. Overfishing is removing their predators, such as anchovies, while discarded plastic bags choke sea turtles on the hunt for jellyfish.

    Warmer seas resulting from the build-up of greenhouse gases also happens to be to the jellies' liking, especially as breeding seasons are lengthened. Since warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen, predator fish spend more of their precious energy breathing.

    ''Warming water is a disaster for things that breathe and a dream come true for things that don't breathe much,'' such as jellyfish, said Dr Gershwin, who will speak at TEDxMelbourne on December 3. ''It amps up their reproduction, it amps up their growth rates … they breed more.''

    Not that the jellyfish need much help to reproduce. Despite most jellyfish lacking specialised digestive, respiratory and even central nervous systems, the nebulous, often pulsating creatures have developed a variety of ways to breed over the past 500 million years.

    Cloning, self-fertilisation and copulation are among the methods of different jellyfish species, while Turritopsis dohrnii has been dubbed a ''zombie jelly'' for its apparent immortality. Cells from the corpse of this jellyfish can reform into a polyp and resume breeding.

    As invertebrates, jellyfish lack carbonate hard parts, unlike many rivals and predators, meaning they are coping better as the oceans acidify due to increased carbon dioxide.

    ''They're the last [ones] standing when everything else is disintegrating,'' she said.

    The problem is not just population explosions jamming up pipes and filling fishing nets but also the destruction of fish stocks, as jellies eat fish larvae and vital plankton. Jellyfish, in effect, eat ''up the food chain'', Dr Gershwin said.

    ''We're in the weird, unexpected and incomprehensible position of being in competition with jellyfish - and they're winning,'' she said.

    ''It's actually really scary.''

  6. Karoon Gas: Drilling of Grace-1 to Begin Next Week (Australia)

    Karoon Gas Australia sad that the drilling of Grace-1 well is expected to commence early next week with the primary Lower Plover formation target in the upcoming hole section.

    The 7‐5/8” liner was being cemented in place at 4,118 metres prior to drilling ahead in the 6‐1/2” hole section.

    Since the 8th November 2013 Grace‐1 progress report, the 8‐1/2” hole section was drilled to 4,120 metres before running the 7‐5/8” liner to a depth of 4,118 metres.

    The 8‐1/2” hole section was drilled through the Jamieson formation and into Jurassic aged volcanics. Elevated gas readings were encountered across a zone which is interpreted as fractured vocanics and trace sand was reported from cuttings. However, there was no significant sand development evident.

    Grace‐1 is the fourth well in the current exploration program, and located in permit WA‐31 P on a separate structural trend to the previously announced Greater Poseidon gas discoveries. The well is located in a crestal position on a large fault block approximately 35 kilometres north of the Poseidon field.

    ConocoPhillips is the operator of the jointly held WA‐314‐P Browse Basin permit in which Karoon Gas Australia Ltd holds 90%.

    The Transocean Legend semi‐submersible rig is drilling the exploration well.

  7. Canada: Report Highlights Air Quality Challenge of LNG Export Terminals

    As proposed, three LNG plants planned for Kitimat, B.C. will together burn a quantity of natural gas equivalent to two-and-a-half times combusted annually by the 2.4 million residents of Metro Vancouver – sharply escalating air pollution in the northern city, according to a new report.

    That’s the conclusion of Air Advisory: The Air Quality Impacts of Liquefied Natural Gas Operations Proposed for Kitimat B.C., a new report from SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, a grassroots organization whose goal is to make the Skeena watershed and nearby communities a global model of sustainability.

    The report uses publicly available information to quantify the projected emissions of the three proposed plants.

    “When we first saw the data, we were frankly shocked,” said Greg Knox, executive director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. “Without design changes, these plants are going to send air pollution off the charts, with huge risks not only to salmon, but for the people who live and work in this community.”


    The report finds that the three plants—if built with conventional “direct-drive” technologies as proposed by industry—will increase nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution 500 percent above existing levels. These pollutants are known to cause respiratory illnesses, especially in vulnerable populations such as small children and the elderly, as well as acid rain.
    As proposed, the LNG plants would also elevate a range of other contaminants, including volatile organic compounds, particulates, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxides.
    “Our organization was chartered to protect salmon and build regional sustainability,” said Knox. “But unless the LNG industry makes smarter choices right now, these plants could threaten our kids, elders, and many others in our community with a range of respiratory illnesses for years to come,” said Knox.


    The report highlights cleaner alternatives — that government require industry to adopt “electric drives” that can use other energy sources like wind and water to power the large compressors at the center of the LNG production process. Locating natural-gas powered electricity plants outside the Kitimat airshed is another option.

  8. API Greets Passage of House Legislation on Hydraulic Fracturing

    Erik Milito, API’s director of upstream and industry operations, welcomed passage of House legislation, H.R. 2728, that would promote job growth and domestic energy production by preserving the effective leadership of state regulation of hydraulic fracturing.


    “Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are safe, proven technologies that have allowed the U.S. to outpace Russia as the world’s number one producer of oil and natural gas,” said Milito. “Job growth, energy security, and government revenue are all rising due to the U.S. energy revolution, and state regulators are in the best position to preserve America’s progress while protecting our natural resources with rules tailored to local hydrology, geology, and natural resources.


    “Hydraulic fracturing’s 60-year track record of safety — achieved under the stewardship of state regulators — has been recognized by both current and former Obama administration officials, and this legislation will preserve state leadership against unnecessary or duplicative federal regulations. We welcome House passage of H.R. 2728, and we urge the Senate to quickly consider this common-sense legislation.”


  9. B.C. Premier Leads LNG Trade Mission to Asia

    “Trade missions are an important way to share B.C.’s competitive advantages with our international partners so that B.C. businesses and communities share in the benefits,” said Premier Clark. “As we develop LNG and seize economic development in every corner of the province, these partnerships and strategic outreach will mean more economic growth and jobs here at home.”

    In addition to expanding trade and investment opportunities between B.C. and these important markets, Premier Clark will be advancing liquefied natural gas development opportunities and promoting the province as a stable and attractive destination for trade and investment. She and Minister Teresa Wat will also encourage Asian corporations to headquarter their North American operations in British Columbia.


    Cameron LNG heads Oregon projects as 16 ventures await Non-FTA export permits

    Thursday, 21 November 2013

    The US Department of Energy has 16 separate permit applications and 20 in all for exports to nations such as Japan and China left on its order of precedence, with Sempra Energy's Cameron LNG in Louisiana next in line, and with four additional permit requests listed for Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass project.


    THIS WEEK: Alaska LNG project report proves state can maximize its resources

    Tuesday, 19 November 2013

    The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has released a study of the commercial aspects of the Alaska LNG project that the three majors in the North Slope fields, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP of the UK. as well as TransCanada Corp., are now pursuing.


  10. Big fat greedy people and their big fat greedy dreams coming unstuck - US shale knobbles Galilee Basin coal plans.


    Greenpeace questions viability of Indian company to develop huge Queensland coal deposits

    Greenpeace has released analysis that it says shows plans to develop one of the world's biggest coalmines in Queensland's Galilee Basin are in doubt because its proponent cannot afford it.

    Indian conglomerate Adani has too much debt, its main business is not turning a profit, and its planned Carmichael mine scheme is "uncommercial", according to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis commissioned by the environmental group.

    The Carmichael, at 10 billion tonnes, is considered the largest single coal deposit in the world.

    Last year, Adani announced plans to proceed with a $10 billion development of its Carmichael scheme, including large-scale infrastructure investment, that would create 9,000 jobs, and export coal to India from 2016.

    However, those ambitious plans have been questioned.

    Author Tim Buckley, a financial analyst, told the ABC that Adani was "betting the entire company on their Australian foray into opening the Galilee".

    Mr Buckley said Adani's finances were pinned to its core business, its Adani Power arm, which was losing money.

    "Debt is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you're making money," he said.

    "Their core business isn't making money and they're not able to cover the interest costs. So debt, when you’re not making money, is a problem."

    Mr Buckley said the coal price had fallen about 40 per cent since Adani had acquired the Carmichael deposit, which "dramatically changes all of the economics relating to this entire project".


    Falling coal prices hit plans for Galilee Basin


    GVK and Hancock Prospecting have scaled down plans for a Queensland rail line

    The weak coal market has forced promoters of a multibillion-dollar rail project in Queensland to adopt a more limited plan, with common user access, to get it off the ground.

    The Hancock Prospecting-GVK partnership wants to link several coal projects it hopes to develop in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland to the Abbot Point coal port. But the downturn in steaming coal prices and demand has forced it to scale back plans amid widespread caution prices and volumes might remain subdued for some time.

  11. CFMEU report says most Australians have not benefitted from the mining boom

    A new report says Australians are not seeing enough economic benefits from the country's once-in-a-century mining boom.

    The study commissioned by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union found the share of industry income paid in wages has dropped, while mining company profits have surged over the past 20 years.

    It also says record mining industry profits have outstripped growth in taxes and royalties.

    CFMEU mining division general secretary, Andrew Vickers, says the economic benefits of the resources boom have been highly concentrated

    "Australia as a country and Australians generally haven't benefited from the mining boom, the unprecedented mining boom we've seen over the last ten years," he said.

    "And the alarming thing is just how well companies have done out of it. What tax they haven't paid compared to what they sprout about themselves paying," he said.

    The CFMEU has called for the mining tax to be changed, but not repealed.

    It also wants to a Norwegian-style sovereign wealth fund to be considered to invest the proceeds of the mining boom.

    "What the report concludes is that this country ought to have a very long, hard but quick look at what the Norwegians have done and that's a sovereign wealth fund," Mr Vickers said.

    The study contrasts with a recent report commissioned by the Minerals Council, which said the benefits of the mining boom were trickling down to the community.

    The Minerals Council report said the mining industry spent $35 billion on community infrastructure and local suppliers in 2011-12 and paid about $21 billion in taxes and royalties.

    According to the report, most of the $35 billion was spent on local contractors and suppliers to service mines.


    Rio Tinto ends talks to salvage Gove refinery

    MINING giant Rio Tinto is expected to decide as early as this week to wind down its Gove alumina refinery in Arnhem Land, potentially devastating a 1500-strong workforce that includes many indigenous employees, after telling Australian governments there is no point in further negotiations.

    Rio Tinto has drawn a line under years of negotiations with the Northern Territory and commonwealth governments over subsidised gas supplies to keep the loss-making refinery open, and will now decide how to scale back the refinery and instead export bauxite.

  12. Animals going extinct while millions in funding go squandered

    Animals are going extinct and millions of dollars in Australian endangered species funding are being squandered because of poor planning and monitoring, leading environmental scientists say.

    If data on the welfare of an endangered species is collected, it is rarely analysed or acted on, said David Lindenmayer, one of the authors of an article in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. "Usually [monitoring] is the last thing funded and the first thing cut," said Professor Lindenmayer, an ecologist at the Australian National University. "It's quite shambolic, this whole area."

    Things might be going well, they might be going badly. We'd never know

    In Australia, only five of the 122 recovery plans for 191 listed species had defined ''trigger points'' for intervention in the event that an animal's population numbers or range dropped, the paper found.

    One of those five species - the Christmas Island pipistrelle - had its status triggered to critically endangered after its population dived but the change made little difference and the bat is now believed to be extinct.


    The greater glider was one example of a species monitored to local extinction. The marsupial was common in Booderee National Park in southern NSW when tracking began in 2003. By 2005 its population had dropped significantly and two years later it was gone entirely.

    The original program had no trigger points requiring action even though the yellow-bellied glider had gone extinct in the park in the 1980s, the authors said in their paper, "Counting the books while the library burns".

    Even where triggers for action exist - such as for Victoria's endangered fauna emblem, the Leadbeater's possum - the state government failed to act, Professor Lindenmayer said.

    "Their plan of action is no action," he said.

    Leaving it to the last 20-30 individual animals before acting was inefficient economically and ecologically, Professor Lindenmayer said. "You have to start doing very expensive things that are nearly always prone to failure, such as captive breeding."

    Government programs without sufficient monitoring and action points included the National Heritage Trust and its successor body, Caring for our Country. The situation is even worse where mining and energy companies, and farmers, were left to monitor their own environmental damage.

    "Things might be going well, they might be going badly. We'd never know," Professor Lindenmayer said.

    Examples of successful programs include efforts to reduce the fox threat to species such as the eastern bristlebird in the Jervis Bay area and the yellow-footed rock wallaby in the Flinders Ranges.

    When species become extinct, authorities should compile obituaries so lessons are learnt to help save other creatures at risk, Professor Lindenmayer said.