MAC: Mines and Communities

Australian state government bans uranium mine

Published by MAC on 2010-10-10
Source: ABC News, Mining Weekly, Financial Post & others

The chief minister of Australia's Northern Territory government has banned a uranium mining project near Alice Springs, one of the country's largest areas of Aboriginal settlement.

The Pamela-Angela (aka Angela-Pamela) project is a joint venture between Cameco, the world's biggest uranium miner, and Paladin Energy.

Last month Paladin went cool on its takeover offer for a mine in Niger, following the kidnap by insurgents of employees of the French company, Areva.

Uranium explorer slams NT Government's rejection of mine

ABC News

29 September 2010

A mining analyst says the Northern Territory Government's opposition to the development of a uranium mine near Alice Springs may be politically motivated.

With a by-election to be held in the city in two weeks, the government announced it would oppose a mine at the Angela Pamela site, which has been under exploration for the past two years.

The site is within ten kilometres of Aboriginal town camps, and the mine is also opposed by the tourism industry.

Director of Iizen Equities, Matthew Baker, says the NT Government is trying to show it's listened to local voters' concerns.

"The Territory Government has a fantastic record of being open to mining in the Territory," he says.

"This is, I think, one specific little case, which it's probably blown itself out of proportion because...of a bit of media play.

"This has been a hornets' nest from the day it started."

But uranium explorer Toro Energy has slammed the Territory Government's decision to withdraw support for the project.

Managing director Greg Hall says all explorers will be now be re-evaluating their prospective mines.

"There is a process that mines go through, whether they are uranium or not, that process hadn't been initiated, there was no reason for a decision," he says.

"This is essentially a political reason and it didn't need to be made."

The Federal Government has the final decision on whether the mine proceeds

Backdown over Alice's uranium

By Nigel Adlam

Northern Territory News

29 September 2010

CHIEF Minister Paul Henderson's sudden opposition to a uranium mine near Alice has stunned the business community.

CLP leader Terry Mills yesterday backed the Labor government's stand.

The Territory Government has surrendered the right to allow new uranium mines to the Federal Government.

But Canberra is highly unlikely to support the Pamela-Angela operation in defiance of the NT Government - whether Labor or CLP.

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NT Chamber of Commerce head Chris Young said the decision would cost the Territory economy many jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.

"The Government was supportive until now and we have difficulty understanding the sudden change of heart," he said.

Mr Young said business people were "cynical enough" to suspect the decision was a bid to win votes in the Araluen by-election. But Mr Henderson said Labor was an "enormous underdog" in the election and his decision had nothing to do with votes.

He said there was "overwhelming" opposition in Alice Springs to the mine.

Mr Henderson said the opposition came from all sectors of the community - "not just the lefties".

The Chief Minister said a uranium mine so close to town would lead to a net loss through a drop in tourism. He also said "a significant number of people" would leave Alice.

"It's hard to get professional people to work in Alice Springs, particularly in health.

"Health workers have chosen to come to Alice to improve indigenous health.

"They don't want to work in a mining town."

Mr Henderson said a uranium mine would harm the town's image as the cultural heart of Australia.

A survey earlier this year showed that a majority of Alice business people supported the mine.

"And they still support it," Mr Young said.

He dismissed the argument that a uranium mine would harm tourism.

The Chamber of Commerce chief executive said tourists still went to Kakadu, despite Ranger uranium mine being inside the national park.

He said the Government's decision sent a bad message to other potential resources investors.

Canadian mining company Cameco seems to have gone lukewarm on Angela.

Regional manager Jennifer Parks said the site was mothballed in 1983.

"Some of the reasons for that are still valid today," she said. She said Angela was "fairly low-grade", not in the same league as Ranger and Nabarlek.

"We've still got to look at the economics of it."

The Opposition's Matt Conlan said: "There is an overwhelming lack of goodwill in Alice Springs towards this project.

"I have been in constant communication with my electorate on this matter and believe there is no way the majority of Alice residents will support it."

Australia's Northern Territory withdraws support for Paladin-Cameco mine

By Esmarie Swanepoel

Mining Weekly

28 September 2010

PERTH - Northern Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson has withdrawn his support for the establishment of a uranium mine at Angela Pamela, near Alice Springs.

The Angela Pamela project, which is a joint venture (JV) between Paladin Energy and Cameco, was granted an exploration licence in 2008. The JV parties have committed to a comprehensive confirmatory and exploration work programme, as well as a prefeasibility study.

However, Henderson said on Tuesday that the state government had listened to the concerns and views of the Alice Springs community, and noted that there was strong opposition to the mine.

"We also acknowledge Alice Springs is a tourism centre and a mine in such close proximity to the town has the very real potential to adversely affect the tourism market and the Alice Springs economy."

The state Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton supported the decision, saying that several of the Alice Springs residents have expressed concern about the proximity of the proposed mine.

However, Henderson noted that while the state government might be opposed to the establishment of a uranium mine in the district, the ultimate approval for such an operation fell to the commonwealth government.

"And I reiterate this decision does not mean the Northern Territory government is opposed to the establishment of new uranium mines elsewhere in the Territory."

Greens spokesperson Scott Ludlam said that he was "delighted that the Northern Territory government has finally listened to the deep concerns of the people of Alice Springs".

"This decision is a credit to the Territorians and their supporters who have worked hard to expose the real and present hazards of uranium mining."

Ludlam added that it was now up to the federal government, and Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson in particular to assure the Alice Springs community that the federal government would not override the wishes of the state territory.

Paladin Energy could not be immediately reached for comment.

Paladin exiting NGM deal immaterial: analyst

By Joshua Brown

Financial Post

29 September 2010

Paladin Energy Ltd. is balking in the face of terrorist activity in Arlit, Niger, 250 kilometres from where takeover target NGM Resources Ltd. has operations.

Paladin is trying to back out of its $25-million takeover offer for NGM, arguing that the recent nearby kidnapping of seven French employees of Areva Group constitutes an "outbreak of hostilities" and the change can be "reasonably expected to have a materially adverse effect" on NGM.

The action "shows a new level of brazenness" and France has dispatched anti-terrorism forces and reconnaissance aircraft to Niger, the Associated Press reported.

But NGM doesn't see the activity as being significant enough to trip the withdrawal conditions and has asked the Takeover Panel to consider whether the bid conditions were legitimate in the first place.

"NGM is also advocating that Paladin should have known that abductions in northern Niger are par for the course, with several kidnappings having taken place this year," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The situation, however, should not sway Paladin's share price, according to David A. Talbot, senior mining analyst at Dundee Capital Markets.

"It appears that Paladin continues to consider this region as strategic as it is the fifth largest uranium production area in the world. In the meantime, however, Paladin felt that NGM's ability to safely explore its projects following the completion of the offer would be seriously compromised," Mr. Talbot said in a research note.

He expects Paladin to watch events unfold before it takes further action.

The fallout doesn't impact Dundee's target price or Buy recommendation. While Mr. Talbot liked the potential acquisition, he feels the removal of this project from Paladin's pipeline is immaterial.

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