AfrikaYetu

An upcoming public and policy engagement non-profit consultancy focusing on Social, Political and Ecological Justice issues in Afrika. We work and stand in solidarity with communities in mineral rich areas in Afrika and other global south environments.

The Government of Zambia: An Accessory to Lies by Investors?

His Royal Highness Chief Sikoongo goes through the report shortly after it was presented to him at his Palace. PHOTO/ER

The Council of Churches in Zambia have embarked on a campaign which interrogates whether Zambia has reached the time to mine and Mill Uranium Ores which by and large has drawn much interest in the public domain. Since the launch of the report titled “Prosperity unto Death: Is Zambia ready for Uranium Mining?” the government of the republic of Zambia has taken sides with the investors who are in literal manner lying to the people on the dangers imposed and which the people of Zambia in the areas earmarked for and where such activities have begun will and are exposed to…

Accessory to Lies

The behaviour the Ministry of Mines seems to have turned out as the big PR wing of these mining companies. In the recent past, the Government of the Republic of Zambia the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Mines’ office have rained ‘hail-storm’ on the information dissemination on the findings of the report to the point of threatening officers at the Council of Churches in Zambia.

Yesterday, the Minister assured the Equinox group that their investment is safe in Zambia, but does not worry about the safety of his country men and women being exposed to the radiation that will result from these mining and processing activities.

Who tells a Lie?

Yesterday’s Post Newspaper (one of the local Newspapers) entitled Equinox president notes misinformation on uranium mining attributed to Graig Williams, the president of Equinox Minerals Limited leaves a lot to be desired. Some of the issues attributed to Graig Williams include statements like… “Mining uranium was not dangerous to the country’s environment or people living near the mine.”

This is the same statement that was made in their bulletin, which forms one appendix of the report.

If indeed this were the case, why would the country have bothered to try and go out of its way (which it did not successfully manage to) to try and abide by the rigorous International Atomic Energy Agency’s stipulations?

Williams goes further and says, “We have recently heard in Zambia that mining uranium is dangerous… the fact is that the level of uranium we are mining is very low and so, environmental, health and safety risk is very low and we have very rigorous programme in place to ensure the safety of our people and the community. That is not an issue,” said Williams.

Reality and Lies

If you visit their web site onhttp://www.equinoxminerals.com/Development/Lumwana-Project, you’ll see that they are talking of high-grade uranium at 1,000 ppm.

Now ask Williams or any staff from the Ministry of Mines what levels of uranium are referred to as low-grade (?). Some extracts from the site are pasted below:  Lumwana Overview – Mining during 2009 totals mine material moved was 81.2 million dry metric tonnes.

The strip ratio averaged 5.2:1 and 13.1 million tonnes of ore were mined at an average head grade of 0.95% copper. Mining and stockpiling of uranium mineralization continued throughout the year.At year end the uranium ore stockpile on the ROM pad was approximately 2.5 million tonnes of 1,000ppm uranium and 0.8% copper.

Equinox & Zambian Uranium Mining Venture

In 2008, Equinox completed a uranium feasibility study (UFS) investigating the onsite treatment of discrete, high grade uranium mineralization contained within the Lumwana mine copper pit-shells.

The UFS confirmed the potential viability of onsite uranium treatment, producing about 2 million pounds of uranium per year over a six to seven year period (End of Extract).

Williams further alleges “I think there has been a campaign of disinformation on uranium that is not based on fact. The fact is that we have gone through a vigorous environmental approval by Environmental Council of Zambia and we have applied international standards and our project has got all that.”

Insulting Zambians

Such statements are insulting to the Zambian people. The government of the day is playing along as oblivious as can be which raises a number of concerns. The most interesting thing is that the same company, Equinox Mines started stockpiling of Uranium Ore two years even before the legal instrument [which does not ensure protection of persons] was in place.

What criteria was used to allow them continue with this activity when there were no policies in place to ensure the safety of workers, leave alone the safety of the community members? The story have been told for a long time that transportation of Uranium has to be done under strict oversight, if Copper transported down-south is mixed with radioactive minerals yet transported unsealed – what untold dangers are we supposed to speculate people are exposed to?

Even the Environmental Council of Zambia – ECZ, to who reference has been made; do not have such information of very high grade uranium (of 1,000 ppm). But if they do then to stand the test of time; they must show it to the public, particularly to the persons who are interested in the truth to see that ECZ is well equipped to handle this kind of mining and the eventualities.

This grade is TOO HIGH to treat the issue of stock-piled uranium so casually..!

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This entry was posted on Mar 23, 2011 by in Integrity & Accountability.

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