I spoke at the national conference for the Australian Uranium industry. While I was full of honest support for their product and what it means in fighting climate change, I took the fight up to them on a few important issues too… here is the video.

As many of you know I was a presenter and panellist at this year’s conference for the Australian Uranium Industry. I took the opportunity to give them a bit of tough love. I am happy to share the presentation from that day with you here. Hopefully I will also soon share the panel Q&A with myself and Barry Brook, but that will require some more editing. I do not have consent from the other panellists.  I will just be posting the discussion with Barry and myself. If anyone has the time to pick up a large file from me and do this editing then the upload to YouTube, please let me know, I would appreciate it.

Here is a PDF of the presentation for you to click along with.

Many thanks to Dan and Emma from Danimations for providing the video. Dan attended for the purpose of research for an upcoming documentary of South Australia’s nuclear history from the very early days. It promises to be interesting and informative for absolutely everyone; I learned a great deal in a five minute chat with Dan!

I hope you enjoy the presentations. Thank you for the ongoing support, which helps me to secure opportunities like this.


  1. Yes indeed Ben,well done. Just one little typo. The Leigh Creek coal train carries 9,600 tonnes [160 cars at 60 tonnes per car],at least it used to. I saw it loaded many times during my year 12 geology field camps in the Flinders Ranges between 1973 and 1992

    1. Thanks Terry, that will be right. My figures had been worked backwards from annual consumption as I could never locate the train payload itself. I’ll need to change the rest… we may need one and a quarter satchels now!

    1. This is absolutely my observation from my work John and I expect Terry would agree. The anti-nuclear position is only very weakly held by most people, who are perfectly amenable to a little bit of fact, rationality and context. The true believers are noisy, and hold Labor captive to their Green preferences.

    2. There is definitely a powerful, wealthy minority that is working hard to prevent SA and other places from going nuclear.

      After all, someone is selling the coal that fills those 160 wagons per day for a single plant. Why would they willingly give up their wealth, power and turn their capital assets into junk? The workers can be effectively retrained with some effort, but what would the railroad do with all of the unused wagons? How would the coal mine owner find a buyer for his property if there is no longer a market for the product?

      What kind of transition will governments make from taxing fossil fuel to taxing nuclear energy – after all, they must have a revenue source for all of the services that we demand.

  2. I was surprised on ABC 7.30 to see that Woomera SA stores more above ground low and intermediate level nuclear waste than Lucas Heights NSW . Some amounts are given at 6.12 into the embedded clip
    The currently proposed national site is Muckaty NT which the lawyers seem to be salivating over. With talk of large amounts of money being paid various city and rural folks now want to influence the decision. However Woomera is Department of Defence property and coincidentally just 72 km by road from Olympic Dam. Basically it is immune to vexatious litigation.

    It all says to me that SA should do the full nuclear cycle in suitable stages of uranium mining, nuclear electricity, enrichment and fuel re-use. Unusable nuclear waste at low, intermediate and high level from anywhere could be geologically stored somewhere out that way bearing in mind there have already been A-bomb tests to the west. The key word is ‘lost’; SA’s nuclear virginity has been lost and the legal busybodies can also get lost.

  3. More evidence that Muckaty will be a wet dream for lawyers comes from today’s OLO

    I understand the federal govt bought a property called Arcoona Station in the Woomera precinct. It just seems a lot easier to have the national waste dump there. Tough bickies for lawyers they miss out. In increments you could argue that SA should do the full nuclear fuel cycle with a lot of that west of Pt Augusta. A full valet service for radionuclides consisting of digging, enriching, fissioning, recycling and when needed geologic disposal. Returning some far travelled material to its place of origin may seem poetic to some.

    1. I had a bit of a problem with the file, so have not yet posted the Q&A, but I will. It went over well, lots of compliments in the lunch break after. One investment analyst was amazed, he had NO IDEA that uranium was a key climate change solution. Went back to Melbourne with a story to tell.

  4. Dead right John. Arcoona is the best place for our national low level dump. Half of our waste is already at Woomera anyway. I contacted Chris Uhlmann after the 7.30 programme last night and suggested that he get someone on who can tell the people the truth about nuclear waste. I offered my services. Haven’t heard back yet but I’ll keep pursuing him. I’ve just finished typing my third Ockham’s Razor piece. Hope to give it in the not too distant future. The title? Nuclear waste-opportunities for Australia.

    1. After a bit of googling on Arcoona I found that Mike Rann wanted it declared a nature reserve back in 2003 to stop it being used as an N-dump. Years later just before his political demise he was saying SA had 40% of the world’s easily mined uranium. Alas it seems the spirit of early Rann lives on, not reformed Rann since they are building more windmills with only a decade of reliable gas left.

      If the Feds still own Arcoona it is clearly better than Muckaty because of the military discipline that has long prevailed over the restricted area.

  5. Ben and John,
    I’ve had a response from 7.30 team acknowledging that I’ve made some good points. Have sent them a copy of my third OR talk and hope to be able to make an appearance some time later this year. Also just had a letter [hard copy] from Robyn Williams[host of OR] who has told me that my third OR will have to be a fair way into the future because of something like 30 programmes waiting to go to air. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers. Terry

  6. On Muckaty vs Woomera I understand Australia will require a geologic nuclear waste repository by 2015. That is when Areva in France will return waste from reprocessing fuel rods used in the now defunct HIFAR reactor at Lucas Heights. See timeline in

    It seems unbelievable but when the Brits detonated A-bombs after WW2 in the Abrolhos Islands and Maralinga that decades later major energy resources would be discovered in the area; namely Gorgon and Olympic Dam. I suspect by 2015 the only serious energy developments in Australia will be more gas fired plants. If and when the high level waste comes back I suspect it will be taken to Woomera and hidden behind shallow earthworks so lawyers don’t get a look in. It will underscore that area is the natural focal point for radioactive materials in Australia.

  7. You’re probably right John about the eventual high level waste returning to Woomera. In my third OR talk later this year I shall explain how the Officer Basin in our western desert is the best place on the planet for the storage [and removal from the environment forever] of all of the world’s nuclear waste. It’s a couple of hundred km west of Olympic Dam. We’ve got the biggest single Uranium deposit and the world’s best waste disposal site juxtaposed in our SA desert. This waste repository would be a sensible first step in the development of the full nuclear fuel cycle here in Australia. Our government will wake up one day.

  8. Some links to support my view that Woomera Prohibited Area and immediate surrounds should be the focal point for several phases of the nuclear fuel cycle in Australia. Firstly ongoing dramas with Muckaty NT. Give the lawyers some time out and make Woomera area the national N-dump.

    The WPA adjoins Olympic Dam the world’s largest uranium deposit. The military zone contains former A-bomb test site Maralinga as well as Prominent Hill mine with subeconomic uranium grades. A new uranium mine is touted for Carapateena on the edge of the zone. OD and I understand PH currently use local groundwater but are connected to the east Australian grid. If they and any new mines expand the current power supply will be inadequate. Groundwater will need to be replaced with water desalinated and pumped from the coastline ~300km away. Ironically Woomera township uses river water pumped from ~400km away.

    A new township to be called Hiltaba Village will be built near OD. The mines, the townships and the coastal desal plant will need a new power source. Why not nuclear? After all that area seems to be radio-isotope central.

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