Aminius residents oppose uranium mining

Tujoromajo Kasuto

Livestock farmers and residents of Aminius, in the Omaheke Region, who rely heavily on underground water for survival are outraged at the prospect of uranium mining in the area, claiming that ‘’these environmentally disastrous mining activities’’ will cause irreversible damage to their groundwater sources, threatening their livelihood and the livelihoods of future generations.

More shockingly, the community is perplexed and outraged by the lack of broad consultation from regional and constituency leadership regarding the mining of a highly toxic mineral such as uranium.

This follows the drilling of boreholes by Headspring Investments Project Wings, a subsidiary of Uranium One, which is a subsidiary of Rosatom, a Russian state-owned uranium exploration, mining, and processing company.

The farmers argue that these boreholes were drilled in the constituency’s Okahiokaapa and Omurambauondjombo villages, and that the chemicals used can have serious environmental consequences and cause long-term and potentially irreversible changes to the groundwater quality.

‘’This involves drilling groundwater boreholes into a uranium deposit, injecting corrosive chemicals to dissolve the uranium within the ore zone, then pumping back the uranium-laden solution. Acidic or alkaline chemical agents are used in conjunction with an oxidizing agent to dissolve the uranium. The most common acidic chemical used is sulphuric acid and oxidizing agents include oxygen or hydrogen peroxide, while alkaline agents include ammonia or sodium-bicarbonate or carbon dioxide,’’ the farmers explained.

They state that Headway Investments and its partners ISL uranium mining activities in the constituency or elsewhere should be stopped because they are not sustainable and pose a significant environmental risk and pollution burden on current and future users of groundwater, which should be protected at all costs.

Against this backdrop, and with uranium being a highly toxic mineral, farmers and community members are opposing environmentally disastrous mining activities that will harm their livelihood and that of future generations.

‘’We were not properly informed what these mining activities were all about, officials from Headspring Investments only told us that they are prospecting for minerals,’’ said one resident from Okahiokaapa village.

‘’The ISL uranium mining technique is not controllable, is inherently unsafe and is not an environmentally friendly method of uranium mining. The community welcomes any developmental

projects geared towards uplifting livelihoods with benefits to the environment and wealth creation. In Aminuis Constituency, the entire Omaheke Region and Namibia at large, water of any quality is precious, and particularly so when the only secure supply of water is from groundwater,’’ the residents affirmed.

Meanwhile, constituency councillor Peter Kazongominja stated that the process has been ongoing since last year after the company approached the relevant authorities, and they then decided to engage the office of the council and traditional leaders to inform the residents due to the complexity of mining procedures to be used.

This, however, did not reach the affected residents because communication with the regional council and regional leaders ended there.

He also revealed that there are plans to hold a mass gathering to share much-needed information and provide clarity to the irate farmers and residents.

‘’There is an opportunity that on August 19 or 18, there will be a roadshow in the towns such Stampriet until Aminuis where the drilling is taking place to inform all communities on the necessary

procedures of the mining activities, then as a community we can decide the way forward,’’he said.

By Observer