Read About It : Peter Garrett ♥s Uranium

    Above : DOA, ‘The Only Thing Green’ (Alternative Tentacles, VIRUS 131, 1993). Formed in the same period as Midnight Oil (the late ’70s), Joey Shithead is not yet the Minister of the Environment in Canada. In fact, the band continues to gig, and last did so in Melbourne in 2007, sharing the stage with scab band The Worst.

Peter Garrett — the Minister for Shit-eating Grins, Uranium Mining, Wood-chipping & The Yartz — has great news: Four Mile uranium mine is go! His decision follows an earlier one made at the 2007 Australian Labor Working Families Party national conference to adopt a ‘Three mines is good; four mines is better’ policy on uranium mining. Curiously, as Garrett remarked at the time of this (inevitable and unsurprising) reversal:

    a) (expanded) uranium mining is opposed “by a majority of rank and file members of the Party and by a majority of Australians”;
    b) it leads to radioactive waste (which will be forced upon unwilling communities);
    c) “For those that argue uranium mining will benefit Indigenous communities, I can point to Indigenous communities clear in their opposition to uranium mining” and;
    d) “we cannot absolutely guarantee Australian uranium won’t end up in nuclear weapons”.

Given that a majority of ALP members, a majority of Australians, and a majority of Indigenous communities now ♥ uranium, that no radioactive waste will be generated by the mine, and that both Garrett and the Australian Government can now honestly give a 100% guarantee that no Australian uranium will end up in nuclear weapons, his change of mind makes perfect sense.


Obviously, the opinions of “rank ‘n’ file” ALP members and the Australian public are irrelevant to the decision, made by Cabinet, for which Peter is merely a mouthpiece (armed only with a discarded parachute and a prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres / Order of Arts and Letters).

Dead environmentalists tell no tales

The question of waste is a little tricksier, but it too has a solution: export to Russia. To this end, last year Australian and Russian authorities signed a deal to allow for the re-processing of radioactive waste at the state-owned Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant. Sadly, the Plant has witnessed protest; happily, Russian boneheads are only too willing to be used by Russian authorities to repress such activity, including by way of extra-judicial murder. Thus in July 2007, a mob of fascists attacked an environmental camp on the outskirts of the Plant, injuring many, and beating to death Russian anarchist and skinhead, Ilya Borodaenko.

It is expected, quite reasonably, that the Russian state’s obvious willingness to employ terrorism to destroy opposition to the Plant will render local communities much more willing to accept radioactive waste, including the pollution of Lake Baikal. (The World Heritage listed Lake Baikal is also known as the “Blue Eye of Siberia”: it contains more water than all of the North American Great Lakes combined and at 1,642 meters (5,390 ft), Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, and the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume.)

See also : “Uranium is ace!” (On Angarsk) // antifa notes : russia, May 27, 2009 | Anti-Fascist Attitude, February 17, 2009 | [For Dion] Shadowboxing (Petersburg Antifa) | chtodelat news, August 5, 2008 | Who do they think they’re fooling? Angarsk, Ilya Borodaenko, and the IUEC, July 24, 2007.

“The time has come / a fact’s a fact / it belongs to Alliance Resources Ltd / ignore uppity blacks”

As for “Indigenous” opposition, again, this may prove slightly tricky to crush, and entail the South Australian and Federal Governments to work closely with the corporations managing the mine. Always making trouble for the responsible authorities, “Adnyamathanha (Adnyamathanha) elders, who are the traditional owners of the land where the new mine is be to established, say the approval is in breach of regulations governing Aboriginal heritage protection”.


“What more can we do to protect our land from being raped by mining companies that are allowed to pollute the water and carve up the waterways, even contaminate the soil with radioactive waste?” complains Enice Marsh (Aboriginal elders want uranium mine stalled, SBS/AAP, July 15, 2009).

Marsh further complains that “Many of us have tried with very little resources, limited understanding of the legal system and environmental laws, and despite a mountain of bullying, lies and deceit from mining companies, lawyers, and self-inflated thugs in our own community who dare to call themselves ‘leaders'”.

Wherein, of course, lies the solution. As Peter himself has stated: “In fact, there is an agreement between traditional owners and Aboriginal people in South Australia and the proponents on this matter… And I expect that Aboriginal communities will receive benefits as a consequence of the decision that has been taken” (Garrett’s beds are burning: critics, Cathy Alexander and Larine Statham, The Age, July 15, 2009). See also : more notes on “the intervention” (two), June 24, 2009 | more notes on “the intervention” (one), June 23, 2009 | notes on “the intervention”, June 14, 2009.

In any case, Garrett’s approving announcement has — coincidentally — proved to be a boon to The Economy (which is unwell at the moment):

Alliance Shares Jump After Uranium Mine Is Approved (Update1)
Ben Sharples

July 15 (Bloomberg) — Alliance Resources Ltd. rose the most in nine months in Sydney after the mineral explorer won approval to build the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia, projected to be among the world’s 10-biggest producers.

    Alliance Resources Limited
    ACN 063 293 336
    Suite 3, 51 – 55 City Road
    Southbank, VIC, 3006

    Tel: +61 3 9697 9090
    Fax: +61 3 9697 9091

    Email: [email protected]

Alliance gained as much as 34 percent, the most since Oct. 13, to 98 Australian cents on the Australian stock exchange, and was at 86.5 cents at 3:12 p.m. local time. The benchmark ASX 200 Index was 1.5 percent higher…

Adelaide-based Quasar Resources Ltd., manager of the Four Mile project, has estimated the mine will cost A$90 million ($71 million) to build and will start production in January, Alliance said March 16. Four Mile is the largest Australian uranium discovery in 25 years, Melbourne-based Alliance said on its Web site.

Four Mile will use a technique called in-situ leaching that dissolves uranium in a liquid solution that is then pumped to the surface, where the metal is recovered. The uranium will be transported 8 kilometers to the existing Beverley processing plant owned by Quasar’s parent, Heathgate Resources Pty, a unit of San Diego-based General Atomics…

Note that, in the late ’90s and early ’00s, General Atomics employed a former Australian Government spook, ‘Mehmet Ersoy/Osman’, to infiltrate environmental groups campaigning against the uranium mining industry. His brief was to collate information on the groups and individuals in question, to monitor their protest actions, to alert the relevant companies prior to protest action, and also to attempt to sabotage relations between indigenous and non-indigenous activists and communities.

Mehmet was originally exposed as such in mid-2001; his role as a spy for General Atomics / North Ltd. / Rio Tinto came to mainstream attention in October 2008:

Former officer hired to spy
Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie
The Age
October 17, 2008

THE owners of Australia’s biggest uranium mines paid a former undercover Victoria Police officer to infiltrate environment and Aboriginal groups in Melbourne.

The former police intelligence unit officer, known as Mehmet, was hired by North Ltd — before its takeover by Rio Tinto in late 2000 — and US nuclear and defence giant General Atomics to spy on Friends of the Earth, Jabiluka Action Group, Nuclear Free Australia, radio station 3CR and radical Melbourne [infoshop] Barricade Books.

Mehmet first infiltrated the Jabiluka Action Group and Friends of the Earth in 1998 as part of an undercover police operation. It is not known why police chose to infiltrate and monitor the groups, though both were involved in anti-uranium protests.

After leaving the police in late 1999 to set up his own security company, Universal Axiom, Mehmet retained his covert police persona as a Kurdish migrant concerned about indigenous and mining issues…

Last I heard, Mehmet was in Iraq, training police.

Garrett gives nod to uranium mine
Michelle Grattan and Barry Fitzgerald
The Age
July 15, 2009

The Rudd Government has given the green light to an expansion of the uranium industry, approving a new mine in South Australia that will add hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the industry’s exports.

The Four Mile mine, 550 kilometres north of Adelaide, will open next year after winning clearance from federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett…

Four Mile will be Australia’s first new uranium mine in close to a decade and the 10th biggest in the world. Its approval was made possible by Labor dumping its no-new-mines policy before the 2007 election.

With annual production of about 1400 tonnes, it will boost national output by 13 per cent to 12,100 tonnes and would earn about $260 million a year in revenue at current prices…

Four Mile is 75 per cent owned by US company Heathgate and 25 per cent by Ian Gandel’s locally-listed Alliance Resources. Other local mines are Rio Tinto’s Ranger in the Northern Territory and Olympic Dam (BHP Billiton) and Beverley in SA. The development of Four Mile is expected to be followed by the smaller Honeymoon mine in SA, possibly later in 2010.

But the big uranium developments that could triple Australia’s annual uranium exports to 30,000 tonnes are much further off. BHP plans to triple output at Olympic Dam — the world’s biggest deposit — and is investigating developing the Yeelerrie deposit in Western Australia. Canada’s Cameco and Japan’s Mitsubishi also want to develop the WA Kintyre deposit…

Four Mile, like the nearby Beverley deposit, will be mined by “in-situ leach”, which works by pumping a weak acid solution underground into the uranium-bearing formation through a series of wells.

The solution dissolves the uranium and leaves other substances behind. The uranium-rich solution is then returned to the surface where the uranium is extracted and treated…

World’s best environmental practice for new mine
Media Release
July 14, 2009

Highlighting the Australian Government’s commitment to world best practice environmental standards, a uranium mine in South Australia has been approved subject to strict approval conditions which will ensure no credible risk to the environment…

Speech: 2007 ALP National Conference – Uranium

I second the amendment.

There are strongly held views on this issue – that is well understood and respected.

I welcome the fact that in this party, we can openly debate differences.

Now, I have always maintained and indeed committed myself to the notion that Australia should be nuclear free – that our country is as far into nuclear activities as it ever should be.

I visited the shrine at Hiroshima. I know the history of Maralinga. And I’ve witnessed the struggle at Jabiluka.

I have long been opposed to uranium mining, and I remain opposed to it.

I am unapologetic about this. In fact, I am proud of it.

And I am proud it is a view shared by many at this conference, by a majority of rank and file members of the Party and by a majority of Australians.

And they have been contacting me, in increasing numbers, saying clearly that they do not wish us to make a decision today which sees an expansion of uranium mining.

My reason for this objection is based on the principle that I believe no generation should appropriate the future. The risks are greater than the benefits.

And with radioactive waste, no issue has a greater purchase on the future than this issue does.

Uranium mining leads inextricably to uranium waste.

Radioactive waste is toxic material which lasts for tens and hundreds of thousands of years.

Delegates, each generation is faced with different choices. These involve balancing competing interests, evaluating risks and benefits and aiming to make decisions which add to the common good; decisions which better prepare us for tomorrow.

So we have an important decision to reach here at this Conference.

For those who say we must expand this industry to meet the climate change challenge:

I say, is the only way to meet this challenge by producing more radioactive waste and more materials for nuclear weapons? Why would we do this in a world where terrorism is on the rise, where nuclear proliferation veers out of control and where safeguards and security simply aren’t working?

We must and we can invest significant political will, and intellectual and financial capital in climate change solutions that don’t create new and additional security and environmental problems. We should export those solutions to the world.

For those who say we should expand uranium mining, with the focus on the highest possible safety and environmental safeguards, I say turn the equation around.

Let us commit ourselves to actually achieving safety and environmental safeguards first – safeguards that are accepted by the community, by a community that is fully informed.

And remember that no Australian State – including South Australia – has ever been willing to accept even the relatively small volumes of domestic radioactive waste. This is understandable given the process entered into by the Howard Government, but no State has.

Now that waste is now being forced on the people of the Northern Territory by the Howard Government.

For those that argue uranium mining will benefit Indigenous communities, I can point to Indigenous communities clear in their opposition to uranium mining.

We must ensure that National Parks and World Heritage Areas are properly protected.

Delegates, as I said recently to the Kingsford Smith FEC, at the end of the day, we cannot absolutely guarantee Australian uranium won’t end up in nuclear weapons – but we can guarantee all Australian uranium will become nuclear waste.

This is not a legacy we should leave to our kids, nor to the world.

Hurr hurr.

    Dedicated to Pip Starr (1967–2008) // Jeff Riley (–2007) [“This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled”].

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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9 Responses to Read About It : Peter Garrett ♥s Uranium

  1. Ian McCallum says:

    Nice summary of the treachery and capitulation of the Laboral Parties. I am deeply disappointed that another mine will start up.
    What will it take to shake the apathy out of the population and stand up for the things that humanity needs?
    The same 2 party system is over, it’s time for the people to take action and reject the war mongering capitalists.
    Keep up the good work, the people will win.

  2. @ndy says:

    G’day Ian,


    I dunno if “treachery and capitulation” really describe the political process, or the fact that the Tories and Another Liberal Party share the same core values, and pursue very similar policies. In the context of uranium, I think Garrett’s goose was cooked from the moment he agreed to be parachuted into Kingsford Smith. That is, being a reasonably intelligent person, Garrett would’ve realised — and in fact, expressed this notion quite openly — that his previous opinions on such matters as uranium mining (or woodchipping or…) would be subjected to the determination of the Cabinet, and his role, as an aspiring Minister of the Environment, would be to help sell these policies. In essence, Garrett exchanged his own ‘political autonomy’ for a seat in Federal Parliament, and then a Ministerial position.

    More generally, the three mines policy — which was arrived at as a compromise position; that is, it was neither a statement of blanket opposition nor one of allowing the mining industry carte blanche — was always going to be scrapped, it was just a matter of time, and share market price. The Stolenwealth of Australia holds approximately 1/3 of uranium reserves, and there is a boom in demand, fuelled in part by concern over global warming, and the apparent need to seek new sources of energy generation other than oil, gas or coal.

    As for what will bring about change: mass, popular protest. The authorities understand this, which is why police and private agencies will continue to spy on and seek to disrupt protest movements. They do not want ‘another Jabiluka’ in the sense that the costs associated with repressing dissent — and the acts of resistance the mine inspired — can be raised to a level that such projects become unprofitable.

    This could conceivably be the case inre Four Mile.

    In which context, it is also important to remember that the Mirarr, the traditional custodians of the land, took a very strong stand against Jabiluka; on the other hand, Garrett can point to indigenous support for Four Mile, while at least one elder has spoken against it. The task of the company and the Federal and SA governments will be to further divide the relevant indigenous communities. In this respect, there have been positive developments within the Aboriginal movement as a whole inre “the intervention” within the NT, with various figures close to the ALP endorsing its actions, while others — most especially members of communities directly affected by “the intervention” — have expressed opposition.

    Moar later maybe…

  3. @ndy says:


    The boss of Australia’s Worst Union, former (teenage) Trot Paul Howes, has come out in support of his colleague Garrett and uranium mining:

    A uranium mine is good news for jobs
    Paul Howes
    The Age
    July 17, 2009

    PETER Garrett’s approval of the Four Mile uranium mine in outback South Australia not only represents a significant win for Australia’s resource industry, but also hammers another nail in the coffin of Labor’s former, ideologically motivated, three mines policy.

    The Australian Workers Union has long argued the case for uranium mining because of the real economic opportunities available for Australia as a resource-rich continent.

    The Federal Government’s decision will put us firmly on the road to positioning Australia as an energy superpower…

    Whether or not this will be before or after Howes joins his colleagues in the Federal Parliament is the only relevant question at this stage.

  4. @ndy says:

    ‘Mainstream’ analysis by:

    The good oil: Peter Garrett knows his job
    Peter Van Onselen
    The Australian
    July 18, 2009

    The brutal, thriving industry that is the modern Garrett hunt
    Annabel Crabb
    The Sydney Morning Herald
    July 18, 2009


    Uranium mine digs deeper
    Nick Calacouras
    Northern Territory News
    July 17, 2009

    A URANIUM mine in Kakadu National Park has been given the green light to explore a new ore deposit without the need for environmental assessment.

    The Territory Government yesterday gave Energy Resources Australia the approval for further exploration of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park…

  5. Jon says:

    In-situ recovery is environmentally less damaging than digging a pit. As for contamination of the groundwater, the aquifer is saline and radioactive already and is located in a desert. Once mining ceases the aquifer returns to it’s stable state as the acid is neutralised.
    Nuclear power is the only practical way we can reduce carbon emissions. The future of power generation will be with safe pebble bed reactors and 3rd and 4th generation reactors.
    Nuclear power is the future and we will just have to accept it.

  6. @ndy says:

    “Nuclear power is the future and we will just have to accept it” is pretty much what Garrett has informed the Australian and Adnyamathanha people:

    Aboriginal people ‘not heard’ over mine
    July 15, 2009

    Members of the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal community in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges say they are outraged that their voices have not been heard during negotiations for the Four Mile uranium mine.

    The new mine, managed by Quasar Resources, is near the existing Beverley uranium mine in the state’s north-east.

    Community member Jillian Marsh has completed a PhD on the Beverley mine and says the native title process is flawed.

    Ms Marsh says Quasar Resources and the Government are ignoring the cultural concerns of the Adnyamathanha people.

    “The native title process is not a process that offers any decision making power for Aboriginal people and there are regulations and requirements under the Aboriginal heritage legislation that are yet to be addressed,” she said.

    “So for a decision to be made by the Federal Environment Minister yesterday, raises some very serious concerns.”

    Ms Marsh says Adnyamathanha women who took part in the exploration work area clearance under the group’s native title say their concerns are not being addressed.

    “Quasar Resources has actually formally stated in one of their archaeological reports that they don’t want women participating in work area clearance, which is totally unacceptable,” she said.

    Indigenous benefits

    The Mineral Resources Development Minister, Paul Holloway, says there will be many benefits for Indigenous people with the approval of the Four Mile uranium mine in the State’s north-east.

    He says 20 percent of the workforce at the nearby Beverley Mine are Indigenous people.

    Mr Holloway says increased jobs and royalties will benefit Aboriginal communities.

    “It’s important that the royalties that are paid to the local community of course enable those local communities to improve their training and look for other economic opportunities to sustain them in the long term,” he said.

    “There’s really virtually no other source of revenue that they’d have to gain that level of self sufficiency, I think that the vast majority of people up there realise the benefits that will come from this mine.”

  7. @ndy says:

    More blah:

    Be like Garrett, ditch your ideals
    Janet Albrechtsen
    The Australian
    July 22, 2009

    THE Environment Minister’s sensible decision to grow up makes him an excellent role model for all manner of foolish young idealists.

    NOW that the dust has settled, it’s worth looking back at Peter Garrett’s epiphany on the way to the Four Mile uranium mine in far northern South Australia. There are indeed many lessons to be learned. But not the ones most commonly asserted by those quick to criticise the former Midnight Oil frontman. Garrett’s experience in approving the first new uranium project in his time as Environment Minister is an important lesson about idealism.

    Not a lesson about a once noble young man whose idealism has been corrupted by power. It is about the follies of idealism. Garrett’s youthful idealism was a foolish, childlike indulgence overtaken by maturity, wisdom and the need to confront the world as it is. The lesson is not to fantasise about a world that could never be, as Garrett did when he was head of the Australian Conservation Foundation or sought out a Senate seat as a member of the Nuclear Disarmament Party…

    Uranium deal celebrated by ‘delighted’ minister
    World Nuclear News
    July 24, 2009

    Australia may still have a policy against the generation of nuclear power at home, but its government is nevertheless in favour of exploiting its vast uranium reserves.

    As a joint venture agreement for the development of the Lake Maitland deposit was signed off yesterday, minister for resources and energy Martin Ferguson said he was “delighted” that investment from abroad “will help develop our uranium assets.”

    “With around 40% of the world’s commercially viable uranium,” Ferguson expounded, “Australia has an obligation to develop those resources in a way that achieves a cleaner global energy outcome.”

    “Concerns related to
    climate change and
    energy security are set
    to drive increased
    demand for Australian
    uranium in the years
    ahead. The Australian
    government strongly
    supports the expansion
    of uranium mining in
    Australia as it will bring
    significant economic
    benefit to Australians
    and play a major role in
    international efforts to
    reduce carbon dioxide

    Martin Ferguson
    Australian minister for
    resources and energy

    Given environmental approval, Lake Maitland is set to be developed by a joint venture of Australia-based Mega Uranium and the Japan Australia Uranium Resources Development consortium. The deposit, in Western Australia, contains 10,750 tonnes of uranium oxide.

    Ferguson’s excitement comes just ten days after a new uranium mine was given approval by environment minister Peter Garrett. Formerly a leading activist fighting uranium mining amongst other things, Garrett had no choice but to approve the mine in line with Labor Party policy and the fact that he was certain the Four Mile mine would pose “no credible risk to the environment.”

    There has been much debate on nuclear power and uranium in Australian media over in recent days. The Australian Uranium Conference took place in Perth and gained media coverage, while Ferguson’s department is accepting submissions towards a discussion paper on energy with several pro-nuclear viewpoints represented.

    These events come just one week ahead of the Labor Party conference at which a stance to prohibit the building of nuclear power plants is on the party’s platform. The government will come under pressure to justify its anti-nuclear, pro-uranium position in the light of a need for significant and lasting cuts in emissions.

  8. @ndy says:

    On the ALP national conference, 2009:

    …Not that the 400 delegates gathered at Sydney’s Darling Harbour Convention Centre are to be allowed to revel in [the] sweetness [of electoral victory]. After the first of three days, it seems a fair bet that this conference is destined to be remembered for almost nothing…

    Once, great significance might have been put on some of these conference decisions that got through. But they will sink into nothingness.

    Why? Because what the conference decides matters hardly a whit.

    A lot of work has gone into heading off a few potential embarrassments, such as over government procurement policy, but at the end of the day if anything unacceptable to the Government is passed it will simply be ignored.

    Many years ago, these conferences were vitally important, on issues as central as the US alliance and uranium mining.

    Now all power is in the hands of the parliamentary party, and Rudd has further strengthened the role of leader within that party. In opposition, he seized the right to appoint his frontbench (rather than just allocate portfolios) and he entrenched this right in government…

    ~ Big show of little consequence for Rudd’s political future, Michelle Grattan, The Age, July 31, 2009

  9. Sterling work Andy! Our recent travels thru the area shocked with the knowledge that the mining area is a separate Commonwealth land title and exempt from S.A environmental & resource use laws. I wonder how many additional million litres of water will be ripped out per day? All this and more with the miners enjoying a honeymoon period of 5 years at a half rate resource royalty payment (just 1.5%). It should be 80% of the value per tonne, if begrudgingly at all. The NIT says it well:

    Promises Promises – Issue 182 – 23 Jul 2009

    THE PROMISE: Labor will work with land councils and native title holders towards the better use of royalty monies.

    THE REALITY: Apart from continuing to use mining royalties as a political slush fund, just like its predecessors, in government Labor has done precisely nothing to ‘work towards the better use’ of someone else’s money.

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