Thursday, July 29, 2010

Govt pledges transparency in uranium mining

Govt pledges transparency in uranium mining
By Florence Bupe
Thu 29 July 2010, 14:00 CAT

MINES minister Maxwell Mwale has assured that the government will ensure transparency in the exploration and mining of uranium.

Giving a ministerial statement to Parliament on the status of uranium exploration and mining in Zambia, Mwale disclosed that the government had so far issued licences to Denson Mining and African Energy Resources to commence uranium exploration and mining.

He said the country would move cautiously on the mining of uranium in conformity to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requirements.

“We are applying set standards in conformity with the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency standards. An investor cannot commence operations until they’ve met all the standards of the agency as well as the Zambian environmental safety requirements as stipulated by the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ),” he said.

Mwale said his ministry would consult widely with various stakeholders to ensure that uranium exploration and mining benefit the public, rather than harm the environment.

“If handled well, uranium mining can significantly benefit the country’s economy. The sector can help in poverty alleviation through the creation of employment and also the development of areas, since most sites identified to contain uranium deposits are located in least developed areas,” he said.

Mwale said his ministry was working with relevant partners to build capacity in the management of uranium mining.

He also said the country would follow the IAEA standards in the marketing of uranium to ensure that it did not land in countries that will use it for the production of harmful elements like nuclear energy.

“Zambia has no immediate plans to use uranium locally, but we will be cautious in the marketing process so that we do not destine our uranium for countries that will produce harmful products,” said Mwale.

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