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(last updated 15 Jun 2012)
The following companies are performing uranium prospection and/or exploration in Malawi: Paladin Resources Ltd, Balmain Resources Pty Ltd, Red Rock Resources PLC , Globe Metals & Mining Ltd , African Energy Resources (Guernsey) Ltd , Oropa Ltd , Resource Star Ltd , Eastbourne Exploration Pty Ltd , Lisungwe plc
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Citizens for Justice Malawi (CFJ) oppose the development of uranium mines in Malawi.
Kanyika Niobium Project (uranium by-product) EIA submitted for public comment:
On June 14, 2012, Globe Metals & Mining announced that the main Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Kanyika Niobium Project was submitted for public review in May 2012.
The aim of the project is to produce niobium and tantalum products with potential production of uranium and zircon. Uranium would be produced as a by-product at a nominal rate of 80 t of ammonium di-uranate per year.
Mining will involve the extraction of ore from a single open pit at a rate of 1.5 to 3.0 million tonnes per annum using conventional open pit drill and blast, followed by truck shovel load and haul. The final open pit dimensions are expected to be in the order of 300 m wide 2.2 km long (north-south) and 130 m deep.
The project will produce approximately 52 million tonnes of solids to tailings over the mine life (estimated in excess of 20 years). The solids will be placed in a separate tailings storage facility located to the east of the ore body. A waste rock dump will be built adjacent to the pit. The waste rock dump is expected to cover a footprint area of approximately 53 ha and will reach a height of 30 m.
Approximately 125 homesteads and 700 persons will require resettlement in order for the project to be developed.
The EIA public review period will extend to 9 July 2012 before incorporation of public comments and submission to the Malawian Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) in late July. Approval is anticipated in November 2012.
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report - Kanyika Niobium Project, May 29, 2012: Globe Metals · Synergistics
Mining at Kanyika niobium-uranium project to start in 2014: Globe Metals plans to start mining niobium at its Kanyika niobium project from 2014 with construction starting in 2013 according to the managing director Mark Sumich. The Kanyika project will be mined at an initial rate of 1.5-million tons a year to produce 3 000 t/y of niobium metal equivalent over a 20-year life-of-mine though the project has support mining for 40 years. Globe Metals plans to use conventional truck-and-shovel mining at Kanyika operation. Globe is also preparing an environmental-and social-impact assessment (ESIA) study, due for submission to the Malawi government in the first quarter of 2012. Kanyika will also become the second high grade mine after the uranium mine at Kayelekera in Karonga. (Malawi Today Nov. 3, 2011)
EIA commenced for Kanyika niobium-uranium project: On May 9, 2011, Globe Metals and Mining Ltd announced that it has submitted the Environmental Scoping Report and the Environmental Impact Assessment Terms of Reference to the Malawian Environmental Affairs Department. Globe has now commenced the formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Project. South African environmental specialists Synergistics and Malawian consultants Mlambe have been engaged to assist in completion of the EIA, and are scheduled to submit the first draft document to the Government of Malawi in the third quarter of 2012. Completion of the final (bankable/definitive) feasibility is also scheduled for the third quarter 2012. Commencement of production is scheduled for the first quarter of 2014.
Environmental Scoping Report released for Kanyika niobium-uranium project:
The Kanyika Niobium Project will involve the extraction of mineral bearing ore from a single open pit with an ore production of up to 3.0 million tonnes per annum to produce approximately 4,000 t/a of Niobium.
By-products produced at the mine include approx. 194 t/a tantalum oxide (Ta2O5) and approx. 117 t/a uranium oxide (U3O8) [99 t U].
> Download Kanyika Niobium Project, Environmental Scoping Report and Terms Reference for Environmental Impact Assessment , March 7, 2011 (Synergistics)
Chinese entity takes controlling stake in owner of Kanyika niobium-uranium project: A Chinese state-owned enterprise will take a controlling stake in Perth-based junior minerals explorer Globe Metals and Mining Ltd for $41 million. Globe and East China Mineral Exploration and Development Bureau (ECE) on Monday (Nov. 15) inked a binding deal under which ECE will pay $41 million for a 51 per cent stake in Globe, which was previously focused on exploring Argentina for uranium. The funds will be put towards Globe's $150 million Kanyika niobium, uranium, tantalum and zircon project in Malawi, where production, principally of ferro-niobium, is planned to commence in 2013. (AAP Nov. 15, 2010)
Locals want stake in Kayelekera uranium mine:
The Indigenous Business Association of Malawi (Ibam) has called on the Malawi government to sell part of its 15 percent stake in Kayelekela Uranium Mine in Karonga to local Malawians.
But Ministry of Finance says it was too early to start talking about privatisation of government shares in the company.
Ibam president Mike Mlombwa said in an interview the Kayelekera mine is an important project for the economic development of the country and that local Malawians themselves should be fully involved in the investment to have a sense of ownership of the venture. (Daily Times April 22, 2009)
Malawi right watchdog, Catholic Church voice on Uranium mine: Malawi's Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace has accused Australian-based uranium miner Paladin Energy of back tracking on pledges to the people of the Karonga region where it operates the Kayelekera Uranium Mine. The commission, a human rights arm of the Roman Catholic Church, has called for a meeting with the miners and traditional chiefs after accusing the energy company of not doing enough to protect water sources from uranium deposits. The group fears the deposits could pollute Lake Malawi, one of Africa's fresh water areas and the third largest lake on the continentAnd the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has called for the review of all mining agreements including reviewing of the whole mining tax regime. (Nyasa Times April 22, 2009)
The Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga, which is expected to be officially commissioned by President Bingu wa Mutharika on April 17, 2009, comes as a big boost to the country foreign currency account which is currently facing uncertainty largely because of the economic crunch crippling its major export destinations.
Reserve Bank Governor Victor Mbewe is on record to have said that once Paladin starts exports, uranium will account for about 30 percent of the countryís exports, currently dominated by tobacco, tea and sugar. In fact, at US$200 million in annual foreign currency earnings, the mineral will instantly become the countryís second largest foreign earner after tobacco. (The Daily Times April 17, 2009)
Malawi police fire teargas at workers at Kayelekera mine construction site; operations disrupted, managers evacuated:
There was mayhem Wednesday (March 18, 2009) morning at Paladin's Kayelekera Uranium Mining in Karonga district when armed police ruthlessly fired teargas at workers.
The workers, mostly casual labours, are on a sit-in since Tuesday to pressure management for better working conditions and adjustment of their perks.
(Nyasa Times March 18, 2009)
The strike forced Paladin Africa Limited management to temporarily shut down the mine and evacuate its senior managers to Lilongwe. (The Nation March 19, 2009)
Three workers seriously burnt at Kayelekera mine construction site:
A fire seriously burnt three workers on Monday (March 16, 2009).
Three workers were on Tuesday airlifted to an undisclosed better hospital in South Africa for advanced treatment after spending a night at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.
(Nyasa Times March 18, 2009)
On March 20, 2009, Paladin confirmed "the death of one of three sub-contractors injured in a flash fire at the Kayelekera Uranium Project construction site in Malawi on Monday, 16th March".
On April 6, 2009, Paladin advised that "a second sub-contractor has succumbed to injuries received in a flash fire at the Kayelekera Uranium Project construction site in Malawi on Monday, 16 March".
A new Technical Report dated Jan. 5, 2009, discloses a massive increase in costs for mining of the Kayelekera deposit. Compared to previous estimates (Technical Report dated March 16, 2007), total capital cost increases by 64% to US$ 303 million, while operating cost increases by 44% to US$ 28 per lb U3O8 produced.
The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Roman Catholic diocese of Mzuzu in northern Malawi has launched a project to monitor uranium mining in the country, and will begin by focusing its attention on Paladin Energy Limited's Kayelekera mine in Karonga. (Ecumenical News International Sep. 17, 2008)
Labour dispute at Kayelekera mining site: Junior rank workers Kayerekera Uranium mining site in Karonga have threatened to down tools over low perks. "We are demanding increased pay and good working conditions," said one of the workers who opted for anonymity. Reports indicate that the junior workers, mostly drivers, welders, builders, messengers, among others, had a meeting with management over the issue but nothing positive came out. Another meeting was expected this week to try and sort out the issue. (Nyasa Times June 6, 2008)
Commissioning of Malawi's Kayelekera uranium project should start in December 2008, says Paladin Energy Managing Director John Borshoff.
Production ramp-up is scheduled for early next 2009.
Borshoff says the road has been cleared for Paladin to go ahead with the project, following last year's near court battle to halt mine development, as several non-governmental organisations voiced their concerns over uranium-mining in the Karonga region. Borshoff says the company has resolved all outstanding social issues in an amicable manner, enabling the Kayelekera project to proceed unhindered. The terms of the settlement include the establishment of a civil society organisation, which will form part of a monitoring team, which will ensure Paladin meets its environmental and health obligations. (Nyasa Times Feb. 28, 2008)
Government and Paladin Africa Limited have come up with an environmental bond that will see the company save funds to cater for any environmental damage the extraction of the mineral will cause. Former Energy and Mines Minister Henry Chimunthu Banda said this on Feb. 6, 2008, when members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources toured the Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga. Chimunthu Banda, who was transferred to the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Housing in Feb. 8's cabinet reshuffle, said Paladin will open an account with one of local banks with an amount that will be quantified yearly and expected to increase depending on the environmental damage that will take place. "The idea is that at any time the mine closes, there has to be money to address environmental issues. Regarding the welfare of people, it is a requirement that at the time of entry into the mine, every worker has to undergo medical check up and records have to be kept and verified by government." (Malawi Nation Feb. 11, 2008)
One of the critical logistical problems facing the Kayelekera mining project is delay in construction of the highly politicised Karonga-Chitipa road that connects the project's site to Karonga, Deputy Minister of Irrigation and Water Development Frank Mwenefumbo said. He said the road project was moving at snail's pace resulting in the delay in commencement of the mining at Kayelekera. (The Daily Times Jan. 18, 2008)
Malawi Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said the southern African nation is expected to earn more than a billion dollars over the next decade from uranium mining, which kicks off next year. "The IMF and our treasury officials say, at current prices, uranium could generate output for a decade worth about $1.6 billion," Gondwe told Reuters. "This is the overall amount the Malawi government is estimated to make as revenue from its 15 percent stake in the uranium project." Gondwe said that uranium is also expected to raise the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 10 percent and increase exports by 25 percent over the ten years. Malawi's GDP is about $2 billion. (Reuters 9 Jan 2008)
The Malawi Ministry of Energy and Mining has refuted media reports that the out-of-court settlement that some Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) agreed with Malawi government and Paladin Africa Limited over the uranium mining project at Kayerekera in Karonga district were a result of death threats received by members of the involved NGO's. (Nyasa Times Dec. 3, 2007)
On Nov. 15, 2007, Paladin announced "that all six Malawian Civil Society Organisations that commenced legal proceedings against Paladin Africa Ltd and the Government of Malawi have now settled their action on a positive and amicable basis".
However, Malawian NGOs question the legitimacy of the settlement of the court case. NGOs coalition members unhappy with the settlement agreement have indicated they will "continue with legal action to protect the Malawian people's constitutional rights, unless and until the company is willing to enter negotiations to change its proposal in a way that addresses the flaws, gaps and problems in the project that pose serious public health and environmental risks".
> View MPI release Nov. 19, 2007
Civil society groups in Malawi have asked Paladin (Africa) to halt mining operations at Keyelekera in Karonga until legal challenges initiated by the non-governmental organizations on the mining are concluded.
Undule Mwakasungura, executive director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation said on Oct. 22, 2007, that Malawi does not have regulatory and controlling legislation for the mining of uranium. He said Malawi needed the legislation to protect the heritage of the people, to protect the environment and to ensure that regulation to compensate mineworkers and others who would suffer illness or injury because of uranium mining.
He said the NGOs want Paladin to ensure that royalties to Karonga be based at 4.5 percent of the gross annual revenue and an inclusive independent monitoring body consisting of MPs, traditional leaders, NGOs, government, Paladin and experts be constituted.
Mwakasungura also said the civil society wants an environmental bond to cater for environmental damages after closure of the mine and construction of a tailings dam to fill in tailings below the water table. (The Daily Times Oct. 25, 2007)
Civil society organisations, represented by Mr Undule Mwakasungula, executive director of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Reinford Mwangonde of Citizens for Justice (CFJ) recently met the IAEA team in Malawi; they have issued a media statement to refute the reports that also indicated that IAEA endorsed the procedures followed by Malawi government to grant Australian company, Paladin Resources, a mining licence.
A statement made available to Nyasa Times, endorsed and issued by CHRR, CFJ, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace - Mzuzu, Church & Society of Livingstonia Synod, Foundation for Community Support Services - FOCUS and Uraha Foundation Malawi - UFM, says the concerned civil society organisation met IAEA to express their concerns at the manner in which government granted a Mining Licence and approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out by Paladin, without the regulatory and controlling legislation and also without an all inclusive process involving stakeholders.
"In the strongest terms possible Mr. Peter Waggitt, a member of the IAEA team, contrary to the claims made by Paladin Africa and the government, denied that the IAEA had approved the EIA which had been prepared by Paladin Africa, and that the claim that the EIA had been approved by the IAEA, as reported by the media, in Malawi, Australia and elsewhere, was a fallacy and misleading," read a media statement.
The media statement says the IAEA clearly stated at the meeting that, in the absence of a national legal regulatory framework, which the government has not introduced: "Malawi is not ready to license or permit the mining of Uranium in Malawi". On whether Malawi was ready to mine Uranium, the statement quotes Waggitt: "It is very necessary that all regulatory and legal frameworks has to be put in place before Uranium mining can commence, as these are radioactive materials whose mining and movement have to be controlled." (Nyasa Times July 25, 2007)
Following a site visit by a three-member team, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sanctioned mining of uranium at Kayelekera in Karonga. The mission took place under a technical cooperation agreement. "The IAEA team applauded government in the manner it licensed Paladin Africa to mine Uranium, noting that the procedures were exhausted. The team also noted that measures put in place to safeguard lives of communities around Kayerekera mine conform to worldwide benchmarks." (The Daily Times July 19, 2007)
On May 28, 2007, Paladin Resources Ltd. announced that a group of non-government organisations (NGOs) had launched legal action against the company's subsidiary Paladin (Africa) Ltd and the government of Malawi.
On April 9, 2007, Paladin Resources Ltd. announced that the Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources of the Republic of Malawi has granted its wholly owned subsidiary Paladin Africa Ltd a Mining Licence for the Kayelekera Uranium Project. With environmental approval already received, this now clears the way for the construction processes to commence.
Mining Licence ML 0152 covers an area of 55.5km2 and has been granted for a term of 15 years renewable for further 10 year periods. The Kayelekera Uranium Project is scheduled to commission in September 2008 and reach full production during the 2nd quarter of 2009. Annual production will be 3.3 Mlbs U3O8 [1269 t U].
Several NGOs seek court injunction to stop Paladin Africa from mining uranium at Kayelekera in Karonga unless the project comes out clear on its negative impact on people. One of the organisations, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), on Wednesday said the NGOs have grouped to stop the implementation of the project because its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not done procedurally. "There are shortfalls highlighted in the environmental assessment report to which government has not responded, for instance, issues of protecting citizenís rights and health." The other organisations are the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Focus on Karonga, Citizens for Justice and the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI). (Malawi Nation Apr. 5, 2007)
On April 2, 2007, Paladin Resources Ltd. announced that the Kayelekera Uranium Project in Malawi has received its Notice for Environmental Approval to proceed with the Project. The environmental certificate which has been issued to Paladin (Africa) Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of Paladin, is subject to conditions of reporting, environmental management, training and compliance with Development Agreement undertakings. The EIA approval is a pre requisite for a Mining Licence for the project. (Paladin Apr. 2, 2007)
Paladin Resources' Kayelekera Uranium Project in Malawi, Africa would not be approved in Australia, conclude independent reviewers (MPI Mar. 1, 2007)
On Feb. 23, 2007, Paladin announced that through its subsidiary Paladin (Africa) Ltd it has reached agreement with the Government of Malawi to enter into a Development Agreement for the Kayelekera Uranium Project. Paladin moreover announced that after review of the Bankable Feasibility Study the Board has resolved to proceed with the development.
The Malawi Government is expected to decide on whether to allow Paladin Africa to start mining uranium at Kayelekera before end of February 2007. (The Nation Jan. 19, 2007)
Five Non-Governmental Organisations have issued a statement that opposes the exploration of uranium at Kayerekela because of the long-time side effects to the people and environment. The organisations have called on government to exercise caution in relation to uranium, as its mining remains a contaminating and controversial industry. "Uranium mining threatens Malawi's natural heritage including treasures such as Sere Stream, Rukuru River and Lake Malawi. This is an ecological disaster in waiting," said the organisations in a joint statement. The NGOs are Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Citizens for Justice, Foundation for Community Support Services, Karonga Development Trust and Uraha Foundation. Key concerns raised by the organisations include detrimental impacts on the health of workers and nearby communities, production of large volumes of radioactive mine wastes, environmental damage and water contamination and a great chance of nuclear accidents due to tailings. (Malawi Daily Times Nov. 14, 2006)
On Oct. 5, 2006, the Draft EIA was submitted to the Malawian Department of Environmental Affairs . Interested parties were invited to submit comments within 10 weeks.
> Download Kayelekera Uranium Project, Draft Environmental Impact Assessment, September 2006 (Knight Piésold)
On Aug. 30, 2006, Malawian rights groups petitioned the government against a plan to grant a 16-year tax break to an Australian firm set to mine uranium, saying the project could be environmentally hazardous. "A 16-year tax exemption is deplorable and in bad taste when the mining life span is ten years," Undule Mwakasungura, a spokesman for a coalition of five rights groups, said, after sending the petition to the government. (Australian Aug. 30, 2006)
Knight Piésold , GRD Minproc and Paladin Resources / Paladin Africa personnel will be hosting three public consultation meetings regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment process for the proposed Kayelekera Uranium Project (Kayelekera Village: June 27, 2006, Karonga Town: June 28, 2006, Lilongwe: June 30, 2006). The objectives of the meetings "will be to disseminate information on the project, engage public regarding the project benefits and impacts, resolve where possible any questions raised by public, and document concerns raised for inclusion in the Environmental Impact Assessment report".
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) requests the Malawi Ministry for Mines, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs to address the environmental concerns regarding the Kayelekera uranium project with utmost caution. According to CHRR, key stakeholders in Karonga have not been informed and consulted yet. (The Nation, Malawi, Nov. 1, 2005; CHRR release Nov. 4, 2005)
Paladin Resources Limited says there are high prospects that Malawi would venture into full throttle-mining of uranium, with feasibility studies starting by May 2005. John Borshoff, managing director for Paladin Resources Limited, a company currently working on preparations for an anticipated Kayelekera uranium mine in Karonga, said in an interview prospects for the project were good. He said after the feasibility study, full time mining would start by 2008. (The Nation, Malawi, Dec. 20, 2004)
Pre-development work is reported to have begun on a new uranium mine at Kayelekera in the north of the country. Australia-based Paladin Resources expects to start production at the mine, reported to contain at least 11,600 t of 'high-grade' deposits, in 2003. [UI News Briefing 00.32, August 9, 2000]
Paladin Resources has secured an 80% interest in the Kayelekera uranium deposit in Malawi. The sandstone deposit was discovered and proved up by CEGB (UK). It has 11,700 tonnes U3O8 in 0.187% ore with in situ leach potential. Another Perth company, Balmain Resources P/L, holds title and Paladin is spending $500,0000 over three years to farm-in to the joint venture. [UIC Weekly News Summary 27 March 1998]
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