Just going through the usual heap of news that piles up over the weekends.
A tiny article from the Brisbane Times caught my attention. It has some huge implications.
The Times reports that the Electrical Trades Union of Queensland and the Northern Territory is banning its members from working in any nuclear-related facilities. Including uranium mines and nuclear power stations.
The Union is worried about the health dangers of uranium and nuclear power. In an anti-uranium video released by the group, the narrator notes, "This is dangerous stuff. It has no place in society."
Union spokesman Peter Simpson further says, "We are sending a clear message to the industry and the wider community that vested interests in the uranium and nuclear industries are trying to hoodwink us about this dangerous product and industry."
Some of the arguments raised by the group in its protest video border on alarmist. (In one segment, a radiologist gravely notes that "any exposure to radiation raises your risk of cancer." This is undoubtedly true. However, we risk exposure to radiation in many of our everyday activities. Passengers on trans-Atlantic flights can be exposed to the equivalent of hundreds of chest x-rays due to solar flares. Yet no one proposes banning travel between London and New York.) But a group of this stature taking such a heavy-handed stance against uranium cannot be ignored.
Ultimately, this could be a setback for the Aussie uranium business. Particularly if other workers follow the electricians' suit.
In the bigger picture, the Union's move illustrates the huge challenges the world faces in bringing on new uranium supplies. Right or wrong, the radioactive metal will always be viewed in a more cautious light by workers, local communities and governments.
Anti-uranium protests are inevitable, and will probably slow or stop completely some of the world's yellowcake projects. One more hurdle for an industry that's already having a hard time finding new, economic deposits in order to meet global demand.
One the one hand, this is positive for uranium companies. Fewer mines mean less supply, and therefore higher prices.
On the other hand, it means exploration and development companies will need to think hard about what projects they pursue. Not only are size, grade and infrastructure a consideration. Companies will also have to think about the surrounding communities, the attitudes of the regional populace, and the stance of host governments when it comes to uranium.
Throw all of these factors in the mix, and it's going to be extra tough to make new mines. Any deposit that fits the bill geologically and socially is going to be a major prize.
By. Dave Forest of Notela Resources