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Using the regulated asset base (RAB) model has the potential for cost-overrun that can be somewhat addressed through the 'alliance' model, that is, a model based on one unified agreement under which all parties share the benefits and risks, write Vincent Zabielski and Elina Teplinsky, respectively, special counsel and partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Date: Wednesday, 08 July 2020
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The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has released an action plan committing the Australian minerals industry to decarbonising the economy and addressing climate change.

Date: Friday, 26 June 2020
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Group’s climate change plan says technology is ‘critically important’ Tania Constable, chief executive of the the Minerals Council of Australia. The Minerals Council of Australia has called for research into advanced nuclear solutions and accelerated development of the minerals required for a low emissions future, including uranium for nuclear power plants.

In a plan to tackle climate change across the industry, the council endorsed a goal of reaching net-zero emissions “as fast as possible” but without setting a target date.

It said it wanted to see faster development of minerals including uranium, aluminium, copper, nickel, zinc, iron, uranium, base metals, lithium, minerals sands, and rare earths.

The plan is a list of 30 activities underneath 10 action areas across its sector covering three issues: developing technology pathways to cut emissions, increasing transparency on climate change reporting, and knowledge sharing of the sector’s response to climate change.

Date: Wednesday, 24 June 2020
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US-based nuclear fuel technology company Lightbridge Corporation has received a patent from the Eurasian Patent Office for its innovative nuclear fuel assemblies. This is a divisional patent and covers an all-metal fuel assembly design with a mixed grid fuel rod arrangement inside the fuel assembly.

Date: Tuesday, 09 June 2020
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In a Technology Roadmap Discussion Paper released on 21 May, the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources said its goal is to bring a strategic and system-wide view to future investments in low emissions technologies.

Date: Wednesday, 27 May 2020
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Coalition discussion paper says small reactors ‘have potential’ NuScale told an inquiry last year that its SMR design would suit rural areas in Australia. Photo courtesy NuScale. The Australian federal government wants to look at the possibility of deploying small modular reactors as part of its policy to achieve its medium- and long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target as part of its obligation under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The nuclear proposal was contained in a discussion paper, released on 21 May, that is part of the ruling Liberal-National party coalition government's policy to detail how it will meet its target of reducing GHG emissions by 26-28% by 2030 from 2005 levels, as well as the broader Paris aim of the globe achieving net-zero emissions.

The discussion paper said emerging nuclear technologies – for example, small modular reactors – have potential but require R&D and identified deployment pathways. “Engineering, cost and environmental challenges, alongside social acceptability of nuclear power in Australia, will be key determinants of any future deployment,” the paper said.

The paper examined more than 140 technologies including hydrogen, renewables, biofuels and carbon capture and storage.

Date: Friday, 22 May 2020
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Half of companies have ceased all exploration operations, survey suggests A uranium mine in Australia. Photo courtesy WikiMedia Commons. Australia’s Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, which represents over 275 member companies and has a working group on uranium, says it is “extremely concerned for the industry” following a survey of its members on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since covid-19 restrictions were imposed a month ago, nearly half of the companies surveyed had ceased all exploration operations, and over a quarter more had ceased most exploration operations, the survey said.

“While partially exempt from travel restrictions, our industry is not immune from other impacts of Covid-19 which has all but killed investment appetite for exploration, meaning that companies are unable to attract private investment to continue exploration and fund their operations,” the association said.

Date: Saturday, 09 May 2020
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Agency schedules webinar and warns of possible shortages at hospitals A researcher at Indonesia’s National Nuclear Agency using a hot cell to prepare a radiopharmaceutical. Courtesy M. Gaspar/IAEA. The production of radioisotopes used to produce radiopharmaceuticals for medical procedures has continued during the Covid-19 pandemic, but hospitals could face shortages due to bottlenecks in transport and distribution, the International Atomic Energy Agency has warned.

An agency survey conducted among operators of research reactors that produce radioisotopes for radiopharmaceuticals shows that most major actors continue to produce radioisotopes because the production facilities have been defined as essential by the relevant governments.

However, many airlines are no longer operating because of the pandemic and borders are closed, which affects the distribution of medical radioisotopes around the world.

Joao Osso Junior, head of the radioisotope products and radiation technology section at the IAEA, said the agency is working to assess the need for medical radioisotopes because most research and education activities using isotopes have been put on hold and many hospitals have delayed diagnosis applications.

Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2020
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The production of medical radioisotopes has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic but bottlenecks in transport and distribution could lead to shortages at hospitals, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) survey of the research reactors where the isotopes are produced.

Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2020
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The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) said on 7 April that Monash University researchers had identified the structure of a protein in the COVID-19 virus, which could be used in screening potential therapeutic drugs.

Date: Friday, 10 April 2020
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