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Issue #1667      December 3, 2014

Toro Energy – Energy resource cowboys

At the G-20 meeting in Brisbane in early November action on climate change and renewable energy came to the front and centre of global economic, environmental and energy attention. With it came the push to move away from carbon based energy forms and to embrace clean renewable energy - of which nuclear energy has no part to play as it is neither clean nor renewable.

However, no one seems to have told the Board of Directors at Toro Energy Ltd about the diminished role to be played by nuclear energy in the future, when it called its Annual General Meeting on November 27 in the QV1 Building on St Georges Terrace in Perth, waving the flag for its uranium mines near Wiluna in north east Western Australia.

A protest organised by the Conservation Council of WA and Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance for the morning of the AGM ensured that investors and potential investors of uranium exploration and mining would have access to an alternative point of view about uranium and nuclear energy.

Kylie Fitzwater, who helped to organise the protest, also attended the AGM itself and addressed the meeting, together with Ngaanyatjarra Elder Glen Cooke who also opposes the Toro Energy uranium mining project in the Lake Maitland and Lake Way area situated within 13 kms of the town of Wiluna.

Though Kylie Fitzwater and Glen Cooke were not in attendance at the meeting as the Native Title claimants of the area, they were there to represent the interests of their people in the surrounding area. The Elder Mr Cooke is from the Western Desert (to the east of Wiluna) and was eight years old when he saw Aboriginal people with severe nuclear radiation sickness come into his area after the Maralinga blasts from 1956 to 1963.

The managing director of Toro Energy, Vanessa Guthrie, briefly spoke to the media and with the organisers of the protest before proceeding to the AGM in an effort to ease the community concerns over the risks of uranium mining. Toro Energy Ltd’s website also obscures the environmentally unsustainable activities from its shareholders, governments and the community about the harm which uranium mining can cause to people, economies and the environment.

Kylie asked whether Toro had put aside the bond of 100 percent of the cleanup cost of the mine (stipulated by the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum) to which Vanessa Guthrie replied that as they had not received final federal environmental approval, that it would be premature.

Kylie also addressed the meeting on the extreme weather which the Wiluna area is subjected to from temperatures, floods and winds which would cause radioactive material from the mine tailings to “blow and flow around the landscape” for thousands of years.

Projections of water use by the mine have revealed that the operation would run out of water after seven years which is about half the life of the project and would render the remaining water saltier than it already is.

Kylie added that the World Bank, which was represented at the recent G-20 in Brisbane, is now focused on clean energy and nuclear energy is neither clean nor renewable.

“Toro Energy is a small and inexperienced company who are overly optimistic about a revival of the nuclear industry,” added Conservation Council of WA Nuclear Free Campaigner, Mia Pepper. This highlights that even after a brief spike in the uranium ore price above $45 per pound following the Australia-India Civil Nuclear Co-Op Agreement, the Uranium Spot Price and Toro Energy share prices are heading south once more.

Nuclear energy is no longer viable as its costs are going up and requires government subsidies to even remain in the running, while the costs of renewable energy continue to fall. It also makes environmental sense to embrace renewable energy as to do so also means you are taking action on climate change.

The Communist Party of Australia supports the campaign to phase out nuclear energy and to end the mining of uranium on the grounds that it destroys the environment which includes the country of its original Aboriginal custodians.

Next article – Pregnant refugees refuse to get off bus in Darwin

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