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Plan to mine Karoo for uranium sparks controversy

Publish date: 10 May 2016
Issue Number: 458
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
Category: Corruption

A new mining controversy has erupted in the Karoo following an Australian company’s announcement that it plans to mine uranium in the area. A report in The Times notes that civil society groups have vowed to oppose the venture, which aims to capitalise on SA’s plans to increase its nuclear power capacity. Uranium explorer and producer Peninsula Energy said deposits of the nuclear fuel under the semi-arid Karoo might be 10 times greater than the volume already found there, valued at R1.2bn. Peninsula plans to start mining in the area in 2019 or 2020. Civil society organisations met in Johannesburg last week and plan to hold meetings in Cape Town and in the Karoo, where sheep farming is the main commercial activity. ‘Every step of the mining process produces dust that is easily inhaled and is probably radioactive,’ retired hydrogeologist Stefan Cramer is quoted in the report as saying. ‘I think we will lose the battle (to prevent the uranium mining licences being issued),’ he added. The groups will challenge any permit in court based on what they said are ‘flaws’ in the public-participation process and in the company’s application documents, the report quotes him as saying.

Full report in The Times (subscription needed)

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