Archive for the ‘Toro Energy’ Category

Toro gets a fraction of the money it needs to start Wiluna uranium project

December 29, 2013

still a long way off from the $260 million they need to start the project and $260 million they need in upfront bonds for mine closure. 

Toro secures $10m in funding. Yahoo News, 24 Dec 13, Toro Energy says it has secured $10 million in new funding from a South African fund manager via an equity subscription agreement.

RealFin Capital Partners will initially invest $5 million in three tranches with the option of another $5 million equity subscription before July 1 next year.

The first tranche of shares will be priced at 7.3 cents with the balance of tranches priced at a 10 per cent discount to the prevailing trading price of Toro at the time.Toro managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said the subscription agreement provided further funding certainty for Toro as it looked towards a busy 2014 work program……

Aborigines bribed into uranium agreements with Toro Energy?

December 29, 2013

These people that Toro are talking to are driving around Toyotas that they did not have before. About 11 Toyotas just appeared” 

Allegation of Toyotas for uranium mining by The Stringer December 17th, 2013 A Toro Energy meeting took place today in Perth with the Wiluna Native Title signatories in light of Toro’s focus to culminate plans to proceed with Western Australia’s first uranium mine. Concerned Wiluna Elder Glen Cooke has long opposed the project and said he was excluded from discussions with Toro. Mr Cooke said he is concerned of potential risk exposures to his people and to his people’s Country.

“Our Country, our rivers, our creeks will be poisoned. It is guaranteed there will be incidents, accidents, leaks, spills. Look at what has occurred at Ranger (uranium mine in the Northern Territory), with more than 200 incidents, and at Olympic Dam (in South Australia) drying up Country (with its demand on water). When we hurt nature, we are actually hurting ourselves, if we fight with nature we are fighting with ourselves,” said Mr Cooke.

Mr Cooke previously entered the Toro AGM shareholders meeting by proxy on the 28th of November to express his concerns that the company had failed to communicate a number of vital issues with Wiluna residents.

“They make it sound good, they don’t say the dangers and say uranium is good stuff and will cause no harm to anything”, said Mr Cooke

According to Mr Cooke “the  signatories have been persuaded to believe the uranium operation will have low environmental impacts.” He is concerned that,  “these Indigenous groups are targeted and influenced by deals to sign over the rights of the land”.

“These people that Toro are talking to are driving around Toyotas that they did not have before. About 11 Toyotas just appeared” said Mr Cooke.

Mr Cooke is supported in his allegations by other local Elders such as Lena Long. Ms Long said she attended these meetings often and knew what was going on, and noticed the vehicles gifted.

“I support Glen.”

“Toro told everyone in meetings that they will clean it all up and nothing will be left behind. I know better. Uranium from the ground is dangerous to all families. Our babies will suffer the most” said Mrs Long.

Mr Cooke said the environment and people, those in the now and those to come must come first, that is before material benefits. “We must care for our land and children and not put our future at risk. These corporations only want to make money, they are full of broken promises,” said Mr Cooke.

“Some men in these meetings are not Traditional Owners but are from the Warburton Ranges like myself and have children with traditional Martu women like me. So why can they attend and I have been excluded?”

Kylie Fitzwater who attended the shareholders meeting with Mr Cooke said that “Toro’s spokeperson boldly stated to the shareholders that the proposed mine area has no significance to the Indigenous people of Wiluna.”

“When Elder Glen Cooke asked a question he was treated abruptly by Toro and with complete disrespect.  He was not permitted to reiterate any questions. It is clear the company tolerates no opposition and has been unfair and biased during their submission period no matter what their convictions,” said Ms Fitzwater.

Mr Fitzwater said that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) have approved the uranium project but with 36 conditions however she argues that the submitted Environmental Management Report was incomplete and lacked details on how to manage  radioactive tailings.

“The EPA should seriously reconsider this approval basis and commit to protecting our ecosystem.  (Western Australia) cannot afford this mistake (because) we will pay the consequences for an incomprehensible amount of time. This (should be a) concern to all Australians,” said Ms Fitzwater.

“Mr Cooke has a complete understanding of the effects of radiation and can best explain this to the signatories, as he recalls the Maralinga operation when he was just eight years old.”

Formidable obstacles to Toro’s uranium mining future

December 29, 2013

Toro Energy – the company seeking to open WA’s first uranium mine – will be the focus of critical attention from local residents, Traditional Owners and State and National environment groups at its annual meeting in Perth today.

Opponents of the company’s uranium mining plans will greet Toro executives and shareholders with an independent report casting doubt on the economic viability of the company as well as the broader nuclear industry.
A theatrical performance outside the AGM will also demonstrate that the nuclear industry’s vital signs are ‘flat lining’.

“Toro have expanded their proposal from one risky and unviable uranium mine in Wiluna, to a series of equally small and risky deposits in the region” said CCWA campaigner Mia Pepper. “What they won’t tell shareholders is that this expansion plan will represent more delays, more costs, more environmental problems, and more community opposition.”

“Toro have failed to fully disclose the complexity, risk and lack of formal approval for its long term plans.”
“CCWA and the Australian Conservation Foundation oppose the current proposal and will actively contest the company’s plan for seven uranium mines across 200km and 2 lake systems which will involve a doubling of water use and radioactive mine waste”.

“Toro’s shareholders will have a very long wait before this company will be profitable, if ever. The conditional approval granted for the Wiluna mining proposal prohibits the company from doing any other preparatory works for a mine until thirty six conditions are met and further management plans are approved.”

“Financial problems have dogged the uranium sector with low uranium prices, high operating costs and a lack of investor confidence following the global decline in nuclear power post Fukushima,” said Ms Pepper.

“While some companies are cutting their losses Toro is on track for tough times ahead”.

Problems with Toro Energy’s approvals for uranium projects

December 29, 2013

Senator LUDLAM: The company [Toro Energy] may be telling markets one thing and regulators another, which is a dangerous situation for it to be in, if that is the case. 

Senator LUDLAM: If I understood your colleague correctly, the assessment of uranium mines is being delegated to states and you are leaving the door open for approvals of uranium mining to also be conducted by states. If these powers go ahead, what will our environment minister actually do? What would be left for the minister to do? Would we even need one?

Senator LUDLAM: This is a 30-year ark of Commonwealth environmental law being dissolved and handed back to the states.

Senator Ludlam asks questions about WA uranium mining approvals


WA uranium mining approvals Senate estimates committee 18 Nov 2013 | Scott Ludlam 

Senator LUDLAM: I presume one of the 48 is the Toro uranium proposal, which was on the minister’s desk when the government changed hands. The former minister had made a number of quite extensive and complex requests of Toro. Would you provide us with an update as to whether officers of agencies have met with the company or exactly where that proposal is up to.

.……..Mr Knudson: At this point that project has been approved.

Senator LUDLAM: No, it has not-or it was approved, but the minister would not sign off until quite a large number of conditions had been met, and they had not yet been met.

Mr Knudson: The EPBC principal approval has been provided. However, as you are pointing out, if I understand your question correctly, there are a number of management plans that are required at different stages as that project proceeds, and those are indeed with the department as part of the post-approval process. If you are looking for a specific update on where those are at, then we can walk through that.

Senator LUDLAM: We are very short of time. Would you provide on notice which management plans and how many of those conditions have been met thus far? There were to be no ground-disturbing activities, for example. I am also aware, and perhaps you could fill in whether the minister has been made aware, that the company is proposing to quite radically change the scope of that project and incorporate a number of satellite uranium ore bodies, which would completely change the project configuration. Have you been notified formally of that change of scope?

Dr Bigwood: We are aware of the proposals. Our understanding is that the company is not proposing to change the Wiluna project at this stage. It will incorporate the subsidiary mines within another mining processing plant that it is considering. It is going through the assessment process.

Senator LUDLAM: Another plant?

Dr Bigwood: I think it is what they have called the Millipede and Centipede proposals. Those two ore bodies will be assessed together, and the assessment will be based on a processing plant at the Centipede mine rather than as part of the Wiluna project.

Senator LUDLAM: The company maybe telling markets one thing and regulators another, which is a dangerous situation for it to be in, if that is the case. My understanding is that there is not a second plant afoot and those satellite ore bodies would have primary crushing and then the ore would be moved to the proposed Lake Way plant rather than another one. If that is the case, maybe I could get your advice: would that require a fresh assessment?

Dr Bigwood: It would certainly change the proposal and, therefore, there would need to be an assessment of that part of the proposal.

Senator LUDLAM: If I understood your colleague correctly, the assessment of uranium mines is being delegated to states and you are leaving the door open for approvals of uranium mining to also be conducted by states. If these powers go ahead, what will our environment minister actually do? What would be left for the minister to do? Would we even need one?

Dr de Brouwer: The environment minister has a wide range of responsibilities, Senator.

Senator LUDLAM: He is busy handing them off to the states and territories as we speak……….

Senator LUDLAM: This is a 30-year ark of Commonwealth environmental law being dissolved and handed back to the states. That is how long this has been afoot…….

Australia’s failing uranium industry

December 29, 2013

3 Nov 13 ACF has described reports of the imminent closure of the Honeymoon uranium mine in South Australia as further proof of the marginal and embattled nature of the uranium sector that highlights the need for an evidence based assessment of Australia’s uranium trade.

 The Honeymoon mine in north east South Australia is set to close following a write down in the mine’s value of over seventy million dollars due to a combination of high costs, technical difficulties and a collapsing uranium price as the market fallout from the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan continues.

The Honeymoon closure is the latest in a run of bad news for Australia’s uranium industry that includes:

Sustained losses and operational failures at Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger mine in Kakadu

  • The scrapping of plans for a massive expansion of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in SA because of the ‘uncertain’ uranium market
  • A fall of around fifty per cent in the uranium commodity price and larger falls in the share value of uranium mining companies since the Fukushima crisis began
  • Attempts by Queensland uranium promoters to receive ‘royalty relief’ and public concessions even before making any formal applications to mine
  • Projects stalled, scrapped or deferred across WA, SA and the NT and uranium hopefuls like Toro Energy effectively stranded without the necessary approvals or financing
  • Increased shareholder anger over the poor performance of uranium companies like the Perth based Paladin Energy
  • Sustained global scepticism over the role of nuclear energy following Fukushima – a continuing crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium

“The uranium industry has long caused trouble, now it is increasingly in trouble. The Honeymoon is well and truly over,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“The sector offers low returns in the shape of jobs and dollars but poses high risks, here and abroad. It is time for politicians to stop accepting industry promises and start genuinely examining industry performance”.

The most recent independent assessment of the Australian uranium industry – an inquiry by the Australian Senate in October 2003 – found the sector characterised by underperformance  and non-compliance, an absence of reliable data to measure contamination or its impact on the environment and an operational culture focussed on short term considerations.

Uranium accounted for only 0.29 per cent of national export revenue and less than 0.015 per cent of Australian jobs in the decade to 2011. “Uranium mining is a high risk, low return sector that poses unique, unresolved and long-lived threats and does not enjoy secure social license”.

“In the shadow of Fukushima, and given the call by the UN Secretary General in September 2011 that Australia conduct ‘an in-depth assessment of the net cost impact of the impacts of mining fissionable material (uranium) on local communities and ecosystems,’ it is time for a comprehensive and independent assessment of the costs and consequences of the uranium sector,” said Dave Sweeney.

Australia’s moribund uranium industry

December 29, 2013

Uranium plunge clouds outlook  ROBIN BROMBY  THE AUSTRALIAN NOVEMBER 04, 2013   JUST as one quarterly report hit the screen proclaiming uranium was at a new eight-year low, the spot price promptly shed another US50c — and thus was born an even newer eight-year low.Spot uranium sank to $US34.75 a pound during the week, a long way from the record $US136/lb it hit in 2007 during the yellowcake frenzy.

Then we had about 260 listed companies that each boasted at least one uranium project. Now we are left with the brave few.

In this space exactly a year ago, we took a relatively upbeat view of the sector. Australia had finally begun uranium sale talks with India (the new federal government may sign the deal by year’s end) and the new Queensland government had lifted its uranium mining ban.

Wisely, this column said it was too early to make the call that the uranium market had bottomed, but that at least the remaining players in the sector were upbeat.

Ditto for this month: still too early, and the brave are still battling on.

And, if the price falls close to $US30/lb, defeatism could emerge. The quarterly report mentioned above came from Manhattan Corp (MHC), which has an inferred 7800 tonnes of uranium at its Ponton deposit in Western Australia. It’s run by Alan Eggers, who seems never to tire of arguing uranium’s story. –

……..Toro Energy (TOE) is positioning itself to be Western Australia’s first producer. But not at current prices.

Claims that uranium miner Toro Energy gave out misleading statements

October 31, 2013

18 Oct 13 At today’s AGM Toro Energy is expected to face strong criticism from shareholders over an investigation by the ASX into claims that the company has released misleading information.

The investigation follows complaints to the ASX and ASIC by the Conservation Council and a shareholder, claiming that Toro has misled shareholders and investors by inferring that a newly discovered uranium deposit is included in their existing uranium mine proposal at Wiluna.

Toro Energy has an existing application to mine uranium at Wiluna which is limited to its Lake Way and Centipede deposits. This mining proposal has received a conditional environmental approval but requires a number of other approvals from both State and Federal regulators.

Nuclear Free Campaigner, Mia Pepper explained “The new deposit mentioned in Toro’s latest release to the ASX is not part of the current Wiluna mining proposal as suggested, and will require new and separate environmental and mining approvals which will add further delays and costs to Toro’s mining plans at Wiluna.

“This is not only misleading for shareholders, but we are concerned Toro Energy is attempting to avoid proper environmental assessment for their long-term plans for a uranium precinct at Wiluna.

“Toro want the ‘best of both worlds’ by promoting an expanded project to their shareholders and investors, while withholding the details of this expansion from the community and government regulators.

“We have also written to State and Commonwealth regulators calling on them to halt further approvals for Toro’s Wiluna proposal until they are able to undertake a full cumulative impact assessment of the company’s long-term plans.”

In addition to the lack of approvals, there are a range of serious environmental and other constraints to the expansion of the already problematic Wiluna proposal.

Ms Pepper continued “The Wiluna uranium proposal as it is, is an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen with plans to dump 9.1 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste in a Lake bed, and with only enough water for a third of the life of the mine.

“If Toro were to incorporate additional deposits, the proposal would be drastically different. A 100km network of small shallow uranium mines and waste dumps across two Lake Systems is very different to a single mine. The cumulative impact of these operations must be fully assessed.

People will be handing out economic reports to shareholders entering the AGM from 8.30am – 9am at the Celtic Club – 48 Ord St West Perth.

Optimism in the face of likely financial disaster- Toro’s CEO Vanessa Guthrie

September 14, 2013

INTERVIEW -Uranium miners face new hurdles as Fukushima disaster worsens  Reuters, Aug 21, 2013  By James Regan

* Uranium miners face uncertainty as new Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolds

* Australia’s Toro says need for new uranium mines still stands

SYDNEY, Aug 21 (Reuters) – Revelations of more toxic leaks from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will raise second-thoughts about Japan’s nuclear future, but won’t halt the long-term global expansion of the industry, the head of a uranium mining company said.

“It reinvigorates the heightened state of nervousness, it surely will make the Japanese government and nuclear regulatory authorities more cautious and conservative in the decisions about the restart,” said Vanessa Guthrie, managing director of Australia’s Toro Energy Ltd, which expects to start mining uranium in Australia in 2016.

Japan is set to raise the severity rating of the leak to level 3, or “serious incident”, on an international scale for radiological releases, underlining a deepening sense of crisis at the site.

The price of uranium, used mainly as fuel for nuclear reactors, plunged after the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima plant 240 km (150 miles) from Tokyo and has struggled to recover ever since. August uranium futures stood at $35.15 per pound on Wednesday compared with $68 per pound before the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster.

However, Guthrie said contract prices between uranium miners and buyers standing at around $58-$59 a pound more accurately reflect the supply and demand balance than the spot price.

Operating costs in the industry range between $22-$25 per pound up to the high $40s, Guthrie said……

Toro Energy compounding its mistakes by buying into Lake Maitland

August 18, 2013

 Toro’s mega mistake Mia Pepper – Conservation Council of WA 12 August 2013 WA uranium hopeful Toro Energy’s acquisition of Lake Maitland, another small calcrete uranium deposit in a sensitive Lake system, is based more on optimism and need rather than any measured assessment of the deeply depressed uranium price and nuclear sector said the CCWA today.

The acquisition between Toro and Mega Uranium does little to change the fundamental constraints facing each company and may well be Toro’s mega mistake.

It is a further sign of the difficulties facing junior uranium companies in a time of falling commodity prices and rising costs. Toro and Mega may share big dreams but they do not have big capacity, experience or dollars.

Toro cannot begin construction at Wiluna and do not have final and formal approval to mine at Wiluna. Instead the company has a conditional Federal approval that involving 35 conditions and requires further assessment from the Federal Minister.

The conditional nature of the approval prohibits Toro Energy from clearing vegetation or using heavy machinery for breaking ground for mining or infrastructure. Toro must also complete a mine closure plan for both State and Federal level assessment.

A recent independent economic analysis of the Wiluna project (attached) found that:

The Wiluna project’s lack of scale and high sensitivity to changes in operating or capital costs means our estimate of its position on the mine production cost curve is perilously high. The project would be highly vulnerable under our model, in the event of sustained lower long-term contract prices in the next decade. On both a cash and total economic cost basis our model suggests Wiluna is a high cost project that will struggle to compete against either existing mines or most greenfield and brownfield projects.     For the full report:

Poor prospects for Toro Energy’s uranium project in Western Australia

August 18, 2013

Nuclear not worth digging or dealing August 9th 2013 by Mia.Pepper   Article published in the Kalgoorlie Miner 9th August 2013

At this week’s Diggers and Dealers, low commodity price and high production costs have been a focus of attention for the entire minerals sector. While, overall, Australia’s mining sector shows signs of resilience, there is one mineral whose outlook may be terminal.

There are five significant recent events that have occurred recently that send a clear message about the future of the uranium sector and the wider nuclear industry. The uranium price dropped to US$34.50lb. Energy Resources of Australia, the operator of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, announced a $54 million loss. Perth –based uranium miner Paladin Energy failed to sell a stake in its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia. French nuclear giant EDF announced its exit from nuclear power in the US and Duke Energy cancelled two proposed reactors in Florida.

These incidents are neither isolated nor unrelated – they are significant indicators about the health of nuclear industry. The uranium price was around the US$20 mark through much of the 1980′s and 1990′s. It increased dramatically around 2005 with the promise of a ‘nuclear renaissance’ but began a steady drop in 2007 through to the end of 2010. Since the Fukushima disaster – a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium – the price has been in free fall. Industry advocates remain adamant or delusional that there will be a commodity price recovery but a look at the sectors vital signs we find little pulse and less plus.

ERA, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, has returned a loss at the aging Ranger mine for the third year in a row, after a series of shut downs and setbacks.

Paladin has been plagued with issues at its two operating mines in Africa. It is dogged by industrial disputes, corruption allegations and an inability to run a profitable mining operation despite securing uranium sales deals above the current spot price. Every year their shareholders get more irate as Paladin’s board promise a bounce back of the uranium price. Their latest problem is the failure to sell a stake in their operating mine in Namibia. This has been viewed as a clear vote of no confidence which indicates people outside of the uranium industry do not share the optimism about a uranium price recovery. Paladin’s share price is currently the lowest it has been in eight years. Even John Borshoff the bullish Managing Director of Paladin seems to be losing faith, telling a uranium conference in Fremantle last month that the “uranium industry is definitely in crisis and is showing all the signs of a mid-term paralysis if this situation doesn’t demonstrably change.”

The move by EDF to exit from nuclear power in the US is perhaps the most significant of these recent events as it was prompted by the high cost of nuclear power. International Energy Agency commentator Dennis Volke put the issue plainly, stating “It is simply not easy to invest in nuclear and recover your money there.” Instead EDF – the world’s biggest operator of nuclear reactors is increasingly turning its attention to renewable energy, particularly solar and wind. This shift from nuclear to renewables is also evidenced in the current BP statistical review of energy which shows that nuclear energy declined by 6.7%, while solar grew by 58% and wind by 18%.

Duke Energy’s decision to abandon two nuclear reactors Vogtle 3 & 4 in Florida has also been driven by economic considerations. After a prolonged series of cost and schedule blow outs Duke decided the best option was to walk away. Unfortunately Florida tax payers will foot a $1billion bill for the project that will never deliver a single megawatt of electricity – much like West Australian’s are footing the $102 million bill for failed plans at the ancient Muja coal-fired power plant near Collie. In response to Dukes decision former Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner Peter Bradford said the nuclear renaissance ”was just this artificial gold rush… And yes, it does show the renaissance is dead.”

With cheaper and more popular renewable energy technology coming online and contributing to global energy supply nuclear has simply become too expensive.

These five events are simply a reminder that the ‘nuclear renaissance’ was more about spinning media lines than spinning turbines. And on top of rising costs and falling social license the sector continues to be plagued by weapons proliferation and security concerns and the unresolved issue of radioactive waste.

For new comers like WA uranium hopeful Toro Energy this does not bode well. When a small inexperienced company like Toro are competing with existing operating mines for scant finance and market access– the $260 million needed to start the proposed Wiluna mine and the further $150-$260 million in upfront bonds looks more and more like ‘the dream that failed’ a term coined by The Economist.


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