Urgent feedback required on Stampriet Basin

Famers in the Stampriet area are asked to urgently provide information on boreholes to the Namibia Agricultural Union.

11 November 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The Namibia Agricultural Union has made an urgent appeal to anyone who owns a farm in or around the Stampriet Artesian Basin to immediately provide the union with farm names on which boreholes for the exploration of uranium have been drilled.

They also want to know on which farms boreholes for water have been drilled by prospectors.

This follows after serious concern was raised over the leaching of uranium from ore deposits in the Stampriet Artesian Basin and that it could cause a health disaster.

Poisoning the Kalahari

It is reported that the process will leave so much uranium in this aquifer that people and animals will not be able to live in the Kalahari, because they will get all kinds of health problems and diseases such as cancer.

This aquifer covers 60 000 square kilometres and stretches across Botswana and South Africa. It is the life source of the Kalahari and provides top-quality drinking water to everyone who lives there.

Headspring Investments Namibia obtained an exclusive exploration licence (EPL 4656) on 15 August 2011 to search for uranium at Leonardville.

The company is a subsidiary of the Russian state nuclear power corporation, Rosatom.

On 3 September 2018, an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) for the continuation of the exploration project was issued to Headspring Investments.

In the same year, Headspring Investments bought the farm Tripoli, on which the exploration work is being done, from Pieter Maartens.

The exploration phase has meanwhile been completed and the company is now in the process of applying for an ECC which authorises it to proceed to the operational phase.

Farmers unite

Meanwhile, the Stampriet Aquifer Uranium Mining Committee (SAUMC) has been established and met at the end of last month.

Divan Opperman, a representative of the Leonardville Farmers’ Association, was elected as the chairman of the committee.

According to the NAU, the purpose of their meeting was to plan and coordinate future actions with the participation of specialists - geologist Dr Roy Miller, environmental consultant Dr Lima Maartens and hydrologist Dr Diganta Sarma.

The union said the first step will be to involve all relevant ministries, preferably the ministers themselves, of agriculture and water, environment, mining and health.

“A further aim is, from the outset, that the various ministries will have to make a balanced joint decision on this extremely serious issue and not each one separately.”

The NAU said should this effort not materialise, discussions will be held with each ministry separately.

“The position of the SAUMC is clear, that nowhere in the world are in-situ uranium mining operations conducted on a freshwater carrier of the quality and scope of the Stampriet Artesian Basin - this intention must be stopped under all circumstances.”

In-situ leaching, also called in-situ recovery or solution mining, is a mining process used to recover minerals such as copper and uranium through boreholes drilled into a deposit, in situ. In situ leaching works by artificially dissolving minerals occurring naturally in a solid state.

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