Concerns stack up about uranium mining

The entire Stampriet Artesian Basin, which stretches from Namibia to Botswana and South Africa, may be polluted with radioactive waste if uranium leaching is allowed near Leonardville.

04 October 2021 | Environment



Proposed uranium mining activities near Leonardville have the potential of not only polluting drinking water, but also affecting the environment for at least 30 years.

Meat exports may be dealt a major blow if radioactivity is detected in meat due to polluted water.

The farmers’ association of Leonardville last week convened a meeting with Environmental Compliance Consultancy (ECC), who were appointed to carry out an environmental impact assessment for the proposed uranium mining by Headspring Investments.

Headspring Investments is part of the Russian company Uranium One, which in turn is part of the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosatom.

According to the Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU), the environmental consultancy firm has been commissioned to compile an independent report for submission to the mines and energy ministry and the environment ministry.

These ministries will then consider whether an environmental clearance certificate should be issued for the in-situ leaching of uranium.

In-situ leaching is a mining process used to recover minerals such as copper and uranium through boreholes drilled into a deposit.

Multinational risk

According to the NAU, the proposed project (‘Project Wings’), will affect the entire Stampriet Artesian Basin, which includes not only Namibia, but also Botswana and South Africa (60 000 km2 for Namibia alone).

“It is an urgent matter for discussion and raising awareness for the public in all three countries,” the union said.

According to the NAU, hydrologists recently informed neighbouring countries about the potential dangers arising from the project.

“Concerns have been expressed about the pollution of drinking water for humans and animals - pollution that according to the Russians themselves, could affect the environment for at least 30 years.”

The NAU says according to information obtained from other studies it could be even more than 30 years and therefore soil baselines and measurements of water quality are extremely important.

“It appears that Namibia at this stage has little to no data on the uranium content of the Stampriet aquifer water. All the landowners and towns on the aquifer are dependent on drinking water from this source.”

Groundwater at risk

Furthermore, the NAU says concerns were also expressed about the extraction process, during which the prospector can give no guarantee that the sulphuric acid used for the dissolution of the uranium will not end up in the drinking water.

The union says concern has also been expressed about the model Headsprings proposes to extract and 'pump out' the uranium, so that the solution can be 'harvested' above ground, before the water is pumped back into the aquifer.

“Headsprings constantly pointed out how clean and minimalist the process is above ground, but could not provide answers to a multitude of questions about what exactly is happening underground. It turns out that the mining process is based on models, which no one can control, as it happens underground.”

The NAU notes that according to guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), drinking water should not contain more than 3/100 000 g of uranium per litre.

Should leakage via dissolved uranium occur and reach the aquifer, the indicated value will be at least 100 times higher than proposed maximum values, the union says.

“At this point, a report is awaited from the ECC (currently in its infancy stage) which should address all the questions raised during public consultation.”

The NAU said it will summarise the concerns of its members and forward them to the environmental commissioner.

In the meantime, a group will be formed that will represent the interests of the Stampriet Aquifer's landowners and ensure collaboration with an environmental consultant, so that any available updates can be shared with members.

[email protected]

Similar News


EIF reaccredited by Green Climate Fund

5 days ago - 18 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) has been reaccredited by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for a further five-year period.The initial five-year accreditation lapsed in...

Woman encourages others with eco-friendly products

5 days ago - 18 October 2021 | Environment

ESTER KAMATIWINDHOEKWilma Garises is a Swakopmund resident who turns trash into treasure by upcycling plastic into useable and unique bags.“My parents have always taught me...

Poaching, wildlife conflict connected

1 week ago - 15 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKThe connections between poaching and human-wildlife conflict in conservancies are a significant local conservation concern.Meanwhile, poaching is compromising the ability of local communities to...

N$92m injection against wildlife crime

1 week ago - 14 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKWhile recent statistics indicate that Namibia is winning the battle against both...

Mining should not be allowed to destroy water resources

1 week ago - 13 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKAgriculture minister Calle Schlettwein says mining activities that have the potential to destroy water resources through pollution or depletion should not be allowed.Schlettwein was...

Lions, hyenas poisoned in Kunene

1 week ago - 12 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKA man was arrested on Sunday after he confessed to poisoning...

Elephant poaching could skyrocket after Covid

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKOnce the world gets the Covid-19 pandemic under control, poaching of elephants could skyrocket again because of the accumulated demand for ivory in the...

Concerns stack up about uranium mining

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKProposed uranium mining activities near Leonardville have the potential of not only polluting drinking water, but also affecting the environment for at least 30...

Namibia wants to join Water Convention

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKNamibia intends to accede to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention).This comes as more and...

Veld fires destroy 2.5 million hectares

2 weeks ago - 04 October 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMITWINDHOEKA massive 2.5 million hectares of grazing has been destroyed by veld fires since the start of Namibia’s fire season in May this year,...

Latest News

Heimstädt steering road safety

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

Rivaldo KavangaHorst Heimstädt is the CEO of the Namibia Road Safety Forum, a private organisation which does extensive work in the Southern African Development Community...

FNB to strengthen its support...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUProparco, a private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group), granted a EURIZ portfolio guarantee of N$ 68 million to...

Learners don maize sacks for...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Education

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI Learners at Omuthiyagwiipundi Combined School in Omuthiya are forced to wear maize sacks each time they misbehave at...

Itula changed, says suspended Smith-Howard

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Politics

Staff Reporter WINDHOEKSuspended Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) Swakopmund constituency councillor Ciske Smith-Howard says her party leader, Dr Panduleni Itula, has become...

The face of the southern...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | People

Michelline Nawatises Victoria Ndemupa Muhuura was born in Wavis Bay. She attended at Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School in the Oshana Region, and...

Zozo’s Leather: Your dream product

1 day - 22 October 2021 | People

Rivaldo Kavanga Celesty Cupido worked in the tourism industry and realised over the years that many Namibian accommodation establishments do not showcase or sell...

Rising like a phoenix

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Business

Mariselle StofbergWilhelmine Mutorwa has used every opportunity she is given to become the best version of herself. For Wilhelmine Mutorwa, giving up has never been...

Africa calls for climate finance...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Economics

ALESSANDRA PRENTICEAfrican countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a US$100-billion annual target to help the...

EDITORIAL: We are guilty of...

1 day - 22 October 2021 | Opinion

A lot needs to be discussed in our country – from race and sexual rights to abortion. The country can’t stop talking, even when such...

Load More