Uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd is facing resistance from residents of northern bordr district of Karonga on plans to reopen its Kayelekera mine, in Malawi, following the conditions that thecompnay presented to the community this week.
In his presentation Greg Walker Acting General Manager for Operations on Tuesday at the Karonga district chamber during said Paladin will restart its operations on the production of uranium at Kayelekera on among other conditions that Malawian government should maintain the development agreement in place.
“Since the suspension of operations at Kayelekera mine on 07 February 2014 what the company is doing now is maintaining the mine and infrastructures in good working order so that there can be rapid resumption of production when market conditions dictate,” said Walker.
Adding that “meanwhile we are going to resume the operations at Kayelekera mine on conditions that Malawian government should provide local generated electricity at the mine site and also commitment by government to maintain the development agreement in place without change as was with the previous government.”
The sentiment angered the community which was in the chamber claiming that the current agreement does not benefit them despite the mine is in their district.
In their augments, the community members presented by Wavisanga Silungwe questioned the way forward of dissolving the agreement which the former governing People’s Party proposed.
“As people in Karonga we had hope with the idea that the former government suggested to review the agreement which is in place between Paladin Africa Limited and our country so that as the community should also benefit from the percentages that the company give to Malawi,” said Silungwe.
According to Silungwe, government must renegotiate its secretive development agreement with Paladin for the betterment of the community.
“As the community we presented our concerns to government that 15 percent of developmental agreement between government and Paladin should raise to about 25 percent so that two to five percent should be given to the community in Karonga to use in some developmental activities at district level,” said Silungwe.
Adding that “since Paladin started the mining process in Karonga some years ago the community has never benefited anything in terms of social responsibilities despite many promises the company made.”
He added that the company should also sign the developmental agreement with the local community.
“We cannot bear to be deceived again, before you start the operations next year we need you to fulfill all the previous promises that you made and sign agreement at district level not only at national level because people at local level are the ones suffering especially when problems concerning mines occur,” he said.
Among other things the community cited that government should not give Paladin the mining license for Silu site unless the company sign an agreement with the local community and that the company must fund the district development plans through Paladin social development funds.
In his remarks Walker said “we can ot answer or abide to what the community is saying because to us we make agreements with government and not the community. it is the Malawian government that should be questioned on the developments at the district level.”
Government officials which were at the meeting refused to comment.
Paladin officially ceased uranium production at Kayelekera in May this year, placing the mine on care and maintenance. Mining operations had been suspended since February, but ore processing had continued.
With the mine ceasing operations, global uranium supply was reduced by around 3.3-million pounds a year.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :