Monday, September 30, 2013

The "Saudi of the South", but for whom?

Vanguard October 2013 p. 2
Nick G.

The South Australian government recently announced approval for the Four Mile uranium mine on the Lake Frome side of the northern Flinders Ranges to move to operational status.

This brings to five the number of operating uranium mines in Australia.  A sixth is also progressing at Wiluna in Western Australia.
As recently as December 2012, the SA government was persisting with former Labor premier Mike Rann’s hyperbole about SA being the “Saudi Arabia of uranium”.  There is no doubting the significance of the SA deposits: SA has 25% of the world’s identified resources of uranium, but most of the investment, and hence, most of the rewards, will go to foreign corporations, not the SA and Australian people.

By contrast, major uranium consumers have in total only 9% (Russia), 4% (USA) 3% (China) and 0% (Japan) of total world uranium deposits.
Four of the five mines currently operating in Australia are in SA (the exception is the Ranger mine in the NT).

Capitalist law of private property excludes real owners
 According to capitalist law, Four Mile is 75% owned by Quasar Resources, a subsidiary of the US General Atomics, and 25% by Australia’s Alliance Resources. According to Aboriginal law, it is owned by the Adnyamathanha people.  In August 2009 they were deprived of access to sacred sites and songlines by fences and locked gates erected even before state and federal government approvals for exploratory drilling had been finalised.

Their appeals to then Aboriginal Affairs Minister and now premier Jay Weatherill fell on deaf ears.
Only a few kilometres away, also on Adnyamathanha land are the Beverley and Beverley North mines, both owned by Heathgate Resources, another subsidiary of General Atomics.

(Heathgate: Adelaide based but US-owned)

Several hundred kilometres south is the Honeymoon Mine which has just passed into 100% ownership by the Russian State Corporation for Nuclear Energy, Rosatom which was a 49% shareholder in previous owner, Canada’s Uranium One company.
Several hundred kilometres to the west is Olympic Dam, owned by US-British giant BHP Billiton.

Also at the pre-operational “advanced stage” is Crocker Well, south west of the Honeymoon Mine. It is 60% owned by one of China’s largest state-owned enterprises Sinosteel Midwest Corp in association with Australian PepinNini Minerals with its 40% stake.
Imperialists move in once profits are assured

In total, there are 27 active uranium explorations throughout the state.  The pattern of investment is for local companies to do the groundwork with surveying, drilling and assaying – often financed by the taxpayer through PACE (Plan for Accelerating Exploration) launched in 2004.  Once there is sufficient information about inferred deposits, the big overseas corporations begin to move in, dangling the carrot of massive capitalisation before the star struck eyes of local investors.

(Above: Quasar Resources drill rig on Adnyamathanha land)
The big imperialist mining companies not only push aside the traditional owners and custodians of uranium bearing lands, and not only buy out and reduce to junior partner status those local capitalists who thought to profit by the contemporary dispossession of the traditional owners, but they also use their weight to prevent local capitalists from establishing themselves as exploiters of Third World peoples.

Thus, in the last three years both the Russians and the Chinese have been buying up uranium projects around the world including those pioneered by Australian capital.
For example, the Husab deposit in Namibia was bought by the Guangdong Nuclear Power Company from Australian miner Extract Resources.

A subsidiary of the Russian Rosatom purchased the Mkuju River project in Tanzania from another Australian company, Mantra.
Our future depends on working class leadership

Both domestically and internationally, Australian capitalists prove themselves incapable of succeeding in the face of opposition from imperialist capital.
Our future cannot rely on such a weak and indecisive class.

The Australian working class must stand with the traditional owners and custodians of the land and build the movement to win anti-imperialist national independence and socialism.
A future working class state will own and operate all mining in Australia and will take the advice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on what is permissible and appropriate both in terms of Indigenous heritage and environmental sustainability.
Further reading: 

No comments:

Post a Comment