Uranium One seeks review of Govt's refusal of exploration drilling permits

March 17, 2023

Uranium One has approached the court, seeking to review a decision by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform not to grant it exploration drilling permits.

The government of Namibia, the world’s second-biggest producer of the nuclear fuel, said last year that a mining company owned by Rosatom had failed to prove its uranium extraction method would not cause pollution.

The Uranium One mining company is asking the court to review the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform on the ground that it is contrary to an article of the Namibian constitution that requires administrative bodies to act fairly and reasonably.

The company said it was not given an opportunity to prove that its method of uranium extraction would not contaminate the underground water that farmers in the area rely on for their livelihoods.

Riaan Van Rooyen, Uranium One’s Namibian spokesperson, told VOA the company "has launched review proceedings in the High Court of Namibia in terms of which it seeks to assail the decision taken by minister of agriculture, water and land reform in respect of an application for drilling permits submitted by Uranium One. As the case is currently sub judice [under judicial consideration], Uranium One will refrain from further commenting in respect to pending litigation.”

Calle Schlettwein, the minister of agriculture, water and land reform, told VOA in an earlier interview that Uranium One must present scientific data that show no contamination of underground water will take place if the company is granted permits to continue with uranium exploration.

“It is not anything against the company or investment," Schlettwein said. "It is the principle that we have to look at that guards against the possible contamination of a very important renewable resource.”

The ministry’s decision comes amid renewed interest in uranium as a sustainable, carbon neutral and environmentally friendly source of base-load energy.

According to the Bank of Namibia (BoN), Namibia’s uranium mining sector is expected to contract by 3.4% in 2022 before expanding by 7% in 2023

Mining remains the primary sector anchor of the Namibian economy and the largest contributor to GDP which amounted to 9.1% in 2021.-VOA/The Brief

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Last modified on Monday, 20 March 2023 13:26