Karonga residents in conjunction with the civil society organizations have given Paladin Africa Ltd seven days ultimatum to reverse its decision to empty its tailings dam liquid wastes at Kayelekera uranium mine into Sere River which flows to Lake Malawi.
Failing to adhere, the groups and Karonga residents have threatened to take legal action against the Australian uranium mining company which may include court injunction.
The development comes against a recent District executive meeting organized by the mining company where its Operations Manager Greg Walker announced that government has authorized Paladin to remove the said water which geologists claim has high levels of radiation into the Sere river which is the main source of drinking water for most people in Karonga.
“The deal has already been signed between the company and government but we shall purify the water first before releasing it into the Sere River,” Walker is reported to have said during the meeting.
However, the development has angered the Karonga community which has engaged the country’s Natural Resource Justice Network Rink (NRJN), a grouping of 33 Civil Society Organizations dealing with mining and human rights issues to help it fighting the battle against Paladin’s decision.
In a statement released on 19th November 2014 signed by 12 people including Paramount Chief Kyungu, Traditional Authority Kalonga, NRJN Chairperson Cosam Munthali, Blessings Botha of Action Aid Malawi, Karonga District Council Chairperson Patrick Kishombe and Wavisanga Silungwe, the stakeholders are demanding Paladin to immediately halt its decision and conform to the initial plan to build another tailings dam.
The stakeholder fearsthat there shall be “increase radiation exposure doses which will primarily affect people in Karonga and Malawi in general since the river drains in Lake Malawi.”
According to the statement the tailings dam is in form of sludge which contains heavy metals of uranium and other contaminants such as arsenic, as well as chemical reagents used during the milling process.
“The tailing waters are in form of mud having waste uranium rocks, acids and other chemicals used in processing the yellow cake which is the uranium and it takes thousand years to become harmless as such people who depend on the river for survival will be affected by such chemicals.”
The statement also highlights that “Paladin is taking advantage of the weak laws and the relatively low capacity of the law enforcement system in Malawi<
The petitioners have asked Paladin to build a second tailings dam as was the initial plan and consequently refrain from malicious practice of discharging radioactive effluents into the river systems, which would put the lives of innocent Malawians to a series of health effects such as lung cancer in the short, medium and long term.
Commenting on the matter Paladin Africa Limited Operations Manager Greg Walker told Nyasa Times on Wednesday: “We have received the copy today but we are still reviewing it we will make a comment later.”
The Australian-registered uranium miner irked Malawians when they disregarded laws governing mining in Malawi to which they duly signed to respect, by suspending mining operations at Kayelekela without notice.
According to the Mines and Mineral Act Section 46, Paladin or any other mining licence holder, cannot suspend mining without a six-month prior notice to the Commissioner of Mines.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), one of the organisations calling for justice from Kayelekela mining, called on government to punish Paladin for their actions.
And Malawians still demand a renegotiation of the mining contract with Paladin.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :