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Namibia orders a stop of Russian uranium exploration

The government of Namibia has ordered a stop of Russian uranium exploration due to environmental concerns.The country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform made the announcement and said the exploration raises potential contamination of underground water.

Hazards

The country has also refused to grant Russia’s Rosatom subsidiary, One Uranium, a water use permit required for mining, saying the company failed to prove its uranium extraction method would not cause pollution. Namibia the world’s second and Africa’s no. 1 producer of the nuclear fuel granted Russia’s state atomic energy agency exploration rights in 2019.

“Namibia could not grant One Uranium a permit for uranium mining. The Russian entity still needs a water use permit to begin mining. No further permit would be granted because the mining method the company proposed, known as the in-situ leaching, was raising environmental concerns. In situ mining involves recovering minerals by dissolving them in an acid pumped into the ground and then pumping the solution back to the surface,” said Namibian official Calle Schlettwein.

Schlettwein said farmers in Namibia’s eastern Omaheke region had petitioned against the technique. Although One Uranium’s spokesperson, Riaan Van Rooyen, dismissed the concerns, Namibian activists maintain the mining project is not worth the risk. Rosatom’s subsidiary is expected to appeal Namibia’s decision against the water permit for uranium mining.

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