Kakadu Charter marks 15 years of shared values
Fifteen years ago this week two very different Australians representing the aspirations of very different communities signed a document outlining a shared vision for a better future. One was Yvonne Margarula leading the Mirarr people, the traditional owners of large parts of Kakadu. The other was Peter Garrett, famous at the time for fronting Midnight Oil and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Their names concluded the Kakadu Charter - a short document with a modest style that disguises its continuing significance.

What started as opposition to plans for uranium mining at Jabiluka has grown into a powerful platform for a different and better way of doing business in Kakadu. ERA is now majority owned by Rio Tinto who have publicly vowed not to mine Jabiluka without the consent of the Mirarr. This significant improvement in circumstances was bolstered by the end of threatened uranium mining elsewhere in Kakadu when the former Koongarra Project Area was incorporated into the surrounding Kakadu National Park and permanently protected from mining.

The challenge now facing ERA, Rio Tinto and the Northern Territory and Australian governments together with the Mirarr is one of comprehensive rehabilitation and facilitating the transition to a post mining regional economy – a vision clearly expressed in the Kakadu Charter.

The 15th anniversary of the Kakadu Charter is a good time for Aboriginal and environmental advocates to re-confirm our shared concern, action and effectiveness for the long awaited total rehabilitation and completion of Kakadu National Park.

In mid-October, after the Mirarr formally confirmed their support for the position taken publicly by Rio Tinto, ERA advised the Australian Stock Exchange that it respects "the views of the Traditional Owners and will undertake a review of its business in the light of their decision".

Traditional owners reject ERA's Ranger uranium extension
Traditional owners have officially rejected Energy Resources of Australia's desire to extend the expiry date on the Ranger uranium extension.

The slow demise of Kakadu uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia has continued, with the local Indigenous group confirming on Thursday that it would not support an extension to the company's mining lease.

ERA's lease, which is set to expire in 2021, is located on the traditional lands of the Mirarr people, and their support has been seen as a significant part of ERA's licence to operate.

ERA said it would undertake a review of its business in light of the decision, and was assessing whether an impairment was necessary.

Uranium mine backburning 'threatening Kakadu cultural sites'
he Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) said in a statement that ERA had failed to contain the fire, which it said had been lit too late in the dry season and on a hot and windy day.

"Once again the stone country is aflame late in the dry season," a spokeswoman said.

"This country has taken an absolute hammering over recent years from very hot, late dry season fires."

Indigenous traditional owners say a fire started at the Ranger uranium mine last week has moved into Kakadu National Park and is threatening cultural sites.

The late dry season fire burned with more heat and torched trees used for habitat by endangered species, as well as threatening sites of cultural significance.

"Important cultural sites are under threat as we speak," she said.

"Mirarr traditional owners are angry that this has been allowed to happen on their lands."

"ERA's failure to contain this fire demonstrates that nature does not discriminate between a uranium mining lease and a world heritage listed national park. This is one continuous landscape and this situation has huge implications for the future rehabilitation of the mine site"

ERA's loss widens to $255m
URANIUM miner Energy Resources of Australia has slumped to a $255 million half year loss after shelving a major mine expansion in challenging conditions.

THE Rio Tinto-controlled miner will not pay a half year dividend and said the uranium market remained challenging as an oversupply kept prices week.

Still, ERA says if nuclear generating units in Japan restart in the second half of 2015 as anticipated, that may provide support for uranium demand.
"Whilst the price recovery continues to be slow, in part due to the delay in reactor restarts in Japan, the long term outlook is more favourable," the company said.
Demand from the construction of new generation capacity in China was expected to exceed supply by the end of this decade, ERA added.

Half of the company's board quit last month after ERA decided its proposed new underground mine at Ranger would not proceed to a final feasibility study due to a sluggish uranium market.

Controlling shareholder Rio Tinto then pulled its support for any expansion of the mine, despite ERA saying it would seek to extend its authority to operate Ranger in order to re-visit the expansion at some stage.

ERA's net loss in the six months to June 30 is significantly larger than the $127 million loss incurred in the same period of 2014, due mainly to a $197 million writedown related to the mine decision.

That's a $255 million *half year* loss.

Mixed signals on Ranger mine future as Jabiru prepares for closure
Australia's most controversial uranium mine is expected to close by its major shareholder and the stock market. But the operator of the Ranger Mine, surrounded by the Northern Territory's World Heritage Kakadu National Park, insists it has a future.

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) announced last month it would not go ahead with a new underground mine, but it is still holding a proposed expansion of the mine up as a possibility.

The different messages coming from ERA and its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, have left the mining town of Jabiru, 260 kilometres east of Darwin, in limbo.

The chief executive of the Mirrar traditional owners' Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Justin O'Brien, said there was now significant uncertainty around the mine's future.

"Within several weeks we've seen the share price tank, the major shareholder pull out of Ranger 3-Deeps and half the board of the company resign," he said.

The uncertainty over the Ranger Mine has been exemplified by the differences between what ERA, and its major shareholder Rio Tinto want.

While Rio Tinto has said it does not support the future development of its planned 3-Deeps underground mine, ERA has said it wants to be able to revisit the project's economics over time.

"These are the end of days for the Ranger operation, and people need to plan for it," Justin O'Brien said.

ERA appears to be about $150 million short of rehabilitation money. Rio Tinto has offered to loan it the rest, but only if ERA does not pursue the underground mine.