Uranium miner at the Kayelekera in northern Malawi, Paladin, has rejected a claim by the Karonga-based activist, Wavisunga Silungwe, that he has obtained a High Court injunction restraining the company from discharging treated runoff water from the mine into the local river system.
Last Thursday, 07 March 2015, Silungwe held a media briefing in Karonga and announced that he obtained a court injunction; however Paladin has told Nyasa Times that no injunction has been served on the Company and a check of the Court records in Mzuzu has confirmed that no such order had been issued.
Paladin said thatSilungwe had applied to the High Court in Mzuzu for a restraining order and that the application had been set down for hearing on 09 June 2015.
“It may be that Mr Silungwe does not understand the difference between applying for an injunction and actually being granted one. Until the matter has been dealt with by a High Court judge on that date, there is no restraining order on the Company,” said Paladin General Manager Greg Walker.
Paladin said it regarded Silungwe’s action as “mischievous”, as the Company is acting lawfully in compliance with a decision of the competent authority, namely, the consent of the Minister.
The Company said that the application for a restraining order would be strongly contested, both on procedural grounds and on the merits of Silungwe’s argument.
Paladin said that, as previously reported, it was releasing only water to the river system which has been treated to comply with Malawi discharge criteria, as established under its licence conditions, including the World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guideline for uranium content.
The treatment and release process is being monitored regularly by officers of the Water Resources and Environmental Affairs Departments. Sampling to ensure compliance with release criteria is being undertaken by the Company and Government and results are being checked by an independent laboratory in South Africa.
In the document, Silungwe argues that the treated water is still “hazardous” as it contains radioactive and other toxic substances that are dangerous to human healthy as well as the environment hence demanding the company to construct another tailing dam.
However, Paladin said that the treatment method being utilized was based on well-known and proven technology widely used around the world for mine water remediation purposes.
Components of the existing uranium processing plant had been converted into a water treatment plant.
“The process has been thoroughly vetted by the Government of Malawi, which would not have licensed the treatment and release of water if it thought there was any possible harm could be caused to the public or the environment. The discharged water meets the WHO drinking water guideline for uranium of less than 30 micrograms per litre, average monthly concentration, so there is no question of there being any risk, as Mr Silungwe alleges.”
Paladin said that it was clear Silungwe did not understand the process of mining environmental management and was misinformed regarding the need for a second tailings storage facility (TSF).
The uranium miner said “there is no logic” to building a second TSF long before it is required and certainly while Kayelekera remains on Care and Maintenance, due to the current low global price for uranium.
The Company has said that it will consider resuming production at Kayelekera when the uranium price reaches US$70-75/lb. The current price is US$ 35.75/lb. The Company is treating and releasing surplus water stocks which were previously used in the processing of uranium ore at Kayelekera.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :