Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Atupele Muluzi, has said government through his ministry has deployed inspectors to Kayelekera uranium mine in northern district of Karonga after a spill at Paladin Energy’s project.
Paladin confirmed it had suffered “minor” storm damage on Monday evening after a 20-minute, high-intensity storm saw 25mm of rain fall on the site.
The spill comes just days after Paladin rejected reports that it was discharging toxic waste from the mine into the local river.
Muluzi said government inspectors will assess the situation.
“I am in Karonga where following governments inspectors preliminary findings I will hold a Town Hall Meeting will the local community to brief them of the situation this afternoon,” Muluzi told Nyasa Times on Thursday.
Muluzi is accompanied by experts within the ministry on environmental affairs and officials from the ministry of water.
“On Friday, I will be holding a press briefing communicating government’s official position on the matter, what transpired, and what action has been taken and will be taken,” he added.
On Wednesday tension erupted at Kayelekera uranium site as armed police stopped irate residents of the district who wanted to enter the premises.
Led by a coalition of civil society organizations, religious readers, councillors and chiefs, the group stormed the mine after Paladin confirmed the leakage, urging that the company is deliberately releasing the toxic waste into the local river system of sere which drains its water to Lake Malawi.
According to chairperson of Natural Resource Justice Rink Network a group of 33 Non-Governmental Organizations Kosam Munthali said Paladin is “fooling” Malawians.
“This is a clear indication on why we are denied to verify the status of the tailing dams ourselves because they know that their toxic waste products have been draining into our river since the beginning of fish death in our rivers and Lake Malawi as the real cause of the matter is yet to be established,” said Munthali.
District Commissioner Rosemary Moyo said has no authority to let people in the district visit Paladin site the development which made the community together with CSOs to go to Kayelekera for a visit themselves.
However, armed police blocked the group.
“The laws of Malawi does not allow anyone to enter the premises of mining sectors without government permission, so the bosses here wants those documents if you don’t have them no enter,” said Almakio Daka the Station Officer of police in the district.
Paladin official concurred with Daka saying “only government officials are allowed to enter into our premises.”
The miner’s managing director John Borshoff said : “The resultant surge of storm water caused the liner in the plant run-off tank to rupture, releasing up to 500 cubic metres of material to the bunded areas of the site.”
He said following discovery of the damaged tank, the company “immediately commenced protection and remediation procedures and the site remains secure;”
The company also claimed that a sampling program to analyse water from within the local stream system was also initiated to confirm no contamination occurred.
Paladin has been accused of discharging waste into the local river system. The miner rejected the accusations.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :