Is the mining of uranium due to begin in all earnest or is the process still in its exploratory phase?
This is one of the pressing questions by the farming communities in the Aminuis Constituency, especially in the Aminuis communal area, as they probably belatedly are starting to raise their voices after observing lately suspect mining activities in their areas. They are in this regard joining the Stampriet Aquifer Uranium Mining Committee, that seems already to have irked Uranium One, a Russian parent company of a subsidiary exploring uranium in Omaheke, for expressing itself against the exploration/cum-mining activities of the company, fearing its exploration activities would contaminate the waters they very much rely on as a farming community in the area.
Among the groundswell opinions and/or fears of the company’s activities lately are the Aminuis Farmers Association (AFA), and the villagers of Okahiokaapa, who have written to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land. Reform. “We the concerned group of residents of the Aminuis Constituency, through the Aminuis Farmers Association is writing this letter to appeal to your office that the spirit and letter of the Environmental Management Act…must be adhered to in executing mineral exploration activities in the Aminuis Constituency. Mineral exploration according to section 29(31) is listed activity thus need an Environmental Clearance Certificate,” says the Association in a letter to the Executive Director of the Agriculture Ministry dated 1 September, 2022.
Maintaining knowledge of such a clearance having been granted to Headspring Investment CC , the Association expressed its concern surrounding transparency in the matter, saying the public was not consulted “nor has the scoping report or Environmental Impact Assessment reports been shared with interested and Affected Parties. We are also concerned that no adverts were place in newspapers for conducting these activities,” the Association complains. Thus appealing for the revocation of the environmental clearance and for the process to start afresh to avoid any confrontation between the community and those who have initiated the project.
Earlier, towards the end of last month, the villagers of Okahiokaapa in the Aminuis communal area, wrote to the same ministry, objecting to the exploration and mining of uranium in their village. This follows the arrival in their village of a company, which started “tapping on our water and drilling at our village before identifying itself as Headsprings Investment CC”, reads the letter of the villagers to the Executive Director of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The community of Okahiokaapa village is unanimously of the opinion, and justifiably so, that it ought to be consulted or as courtesy, informed about the granting of any exploration license and accompanying environmental clearance and impact licenses on whose reliance such exploration may commence and proceed,” reads the letter.
Villagers in the same letter adds that they were never consulted, informed or alerted to the “intrusive and possibly destiny-altering exploration of uranium that commenced and persisted, leaving everyone apprehensive and perplexed by the type of leaders and officials we have in charge of the affairs of our country”. Like the AFA, the Okahiokaapa villagers are appealing to the “Environmental Commissioner” to revoke any authority that Headspring Investment CC may have been given “to drill for uranium deposits located below the only source of clean water for thousands of our communities”.
Meantime, Headspring Investment CC has been engaged in a hearts and minds campaign of sort to get whoever, including the Aminuis community, to grant it a soft landing, and if they have already landed stealthily and softly, to career their way into the surroundings with as little noise as possible or no noise at all from the community in terms of their uranium exploration and/or mining.
One of their public relations exercise was held on 30 August, 2022, dubbed, Public Dialogue on Uranium exploration and ISL mining: ecology, radiation and safety. Not only this but recently scholarships were offered specifically for students from the Omaheke region to go and study in related fields. “Russian universities grant geology scholarships to the Omaheke region,” read a headline on the social media Namibia Daily News platform last month. In terms of this news article “five fully-paid scholarships will be granted annually to students of the Omaheke region in Namibia. Students will be selected to study at top Russian universities in geology and the mining of uranium deposits”.
Not only this but there have been talks in the grapevine of money floating and being dangled in the form of corporate social responsibility programmes to have communities in the targeted areas of the exploration and/or mining activities buy into the project.