Uranium One withdraws litigation against MAWLR over drilling permits

Martin Endjala

The Uranium One Group has retracted its High Court application in Namibia, initially filed to contest the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Land, and Reform’s refusal to issue a drilling permit for exploration in the Omaheke Region.

The company’s move to withdraw follows its earlier 2023 filing for judicial review against the Ministry’s decision to deny exploration drilling permits.

Riaan Van Rooyen, the Group’s Communications Manager, confirmed the withdrawal yesterday.

He explained that the decision came after the implementation of the Water Resources Management Act, Act 11 of 2013 (‘the Act’), by the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform on 29 August 2023. Despite the Act’s existence since 2013, its recent enforcement introduced significant changes to the legal framework governing such activities.

Van Rooyen stressed that the withdrawal reflects Uranium One’s commitment to complying with Namibian laws. He emphasized the company’s intention to engage with stakeholders to address any concerns related to the project.

“Uranium One is confident that its project will not only benefit the country but also ensure safe exploration and mining processes with minimal ecological impact,” he stated.

The Ministry’s initial refusal last year was based on Uranium One’s inability at the time to demonstrate that its uranium extraction method would not lead to environmental pollution.

The company, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian State Corporation for Nuclear Energy, contended that it was not given a fair chance to prove its extraction method’s safety, particularly concerning the protection of underground water sources vital for local farmers.

Uranium One appealed to the court to overturn the Ministry’s decision, arguing that it contradicted a constitutional requirement for administrative bodies to act fairly and reasonably.

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