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Uranium one drilling activities halted – Alweendo

Uranium one drilling activities halted – Alweendo

Business Reporter

THE Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, has rubbished claims that Uranium One, the company that wishes to mine uranium in the Omaheke and Hardap regions, is carrying out its activities without having obtained appropriate environmental permits and as a result is contaminating the underground water.

Alweendo clarified that the drilling activities of the company are on hold as the water drilling permit has expired and that no drilling is allowed before the necessary water drilling permit is issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.

The mines minister stated that it is a fact that any mining activity is likely to have a negative impact on the environment, especially if done without due regard to the environment.

“According to our records, the company in question did obtain all the relevant permits for all the activities they are currently carrying out or activities they have already carried out. The company is currently not drilling because the water drilling permit that was issued has expired, and they have applied for a new water drilling permit that is still being processed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform. Given the importance of the issue, we will continue to monitor the company’s activities to ensure that indeed the company is complying with all the conditions attached to their exploration license,” Alweendo said.

Uranium One has been accused of contaminating the underground water of the Stampriet aquifer by farmers in the area. The company has however denied all these allegations.

Timoteus Mufeti, the Environmental Commissioner, stated that the company was only issued with a renewal of an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC), for their exploration activities. Mufeti, however, pointed out that this is not for mining, and only entails exploration activities, that allow digging boreholes.

Mufeti added that this should not be confused with mining, as the company has not even applied for a mining licence yet, nor have they applied to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment study for Environmental Clearance Certificate to be issued to start mining activities.

According to documents seen by the Informanté’, the company was issued with an Environment Clearance Certificate by the Environmental Commissioner on 1 July 2022 which will expire on 1 July 2025 for Exploration activities (EPL), in the Gobabis/Mariental Districts in the Omaheke & Hardap regions.

The Stampriet Aquifer Uranium Mining Association (SAUM), which represents farmers in the areas, state that many of the questions asked by concerned Namibians have still gone unanswered, adding that the mines ministry does not have any right to issue exploration or mining licences in a Water Control Area.

“Concerned parties demand a moratorium on all of the activities (prospecting and/or mining for nuclear fuel in the Stampriet water-controlled area) until such time that all concerns have been adequately addressed in a transparent manner to eliminate fears of contamination of the only resource of fresh drinking water in this dry area,” Tanja Dahl from SAUM stated.

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