“It’s shocking that Paladin has disposed of millions of tons of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste on a plateau with very negative geological and hydrogeological characteristics,”
On the shores of Malawi’s lake of stars, activists raise uranium fears, Guardian, Santorri Chamley, 3 June 15
When dead fish were washed ashore in northern Malawi, activists and residents looked to a nearby uranium mine for answers – the latest battle in a protracted conflict with Paladin, the mine’s Australian owners “……For many of the tens of thousands of people living in Karonga, a lakeside district in northern Malawi, life revolves around fishing. So when dead fish began to wash ashore, they were worried. Some blamed pollution from the nearby Kayelekera uranium mine, the country’s biggest foreign investment.
“People are fearful because there are a lot of fish dying in the lake, so people are suggesting that they are dying because of the discharge from the Kayelekera mine,” said Harry Hudson Mwanyembe, the chairman for health and environment on Karonga’s district council.
The Australian company that owns the mine, Paladin Energy Ltd, says it has complied with all its environmental obligations and routinely monitors aquatic life in the Sere River and elsewhere. It denies any responsibility for the dead fish but its operation in Kayelekera has been beset by controversy since it was openedby the late president Bingu wa Mutharika in 2009.
The disputes, legal battles and public concern over the mine go to the heart of what many call Africa’s resource curse. As one of the continent’s poorest countries – ranking 174 of 187 countries in the UN human development index – Malawi desperately needs foreign exchange, as well as employment and infrastructure. But its pursuit of extractive wealth has been stymied by a lack of adequate regulation and transparency as well as by corruption, activists say.
In Kayelekera, the pitfalls associated with launching a multi-million dollar enterprise, with government backing, in an area where people lack access to both information and power, are evident in the many rumours, claims and counter-claims surrounding the mine’s operations……
resident of Kayelekera, Philip Simbowe, said the government had sold the lives of Malawians for cash. Continue reading
Malawi warned against reopening uranium mine http://www.ventures-africa.com/archives/62631 May 12, 2015 VENTURES AFRICA – The World Bank has warned Malawi against reopening its only uranium mine, saying the project should be put on hold until global prices improve.
Australia mining company, Paladin Energy, is developing Malawi’s only uranium mine, the Kayelekera uranium mine, in Karonga, northern Malawi. The project was initial suspended in 2014 because of the then unfavourable price climate, but there are indications that the company plans to resume operations in the coming months. “Whether or not the mine at Kayelekera eventually resumes operations will depend primarily on future prospects for global uranium prices, for which the immediate outlook is uncertain,” the World Bank told Malawi in its latest report.Uranium from mining is used almost entirely as fuel for nuclear power plants.
In 2013, Malawi was ranked as the third largest producer of uranium in Africa and tenth in the world. It is behind Namibia and Niger in Africa.
Last year, uranium global prices crashed to $36, from $51 per pound. This posed a major setback to Paladin Energy Africa, having invested heavily on the premise that prices will climb to $70. The Kayelekera uranium deposit was discovered by UK’s CEGB firm and a feasibility study was subsequently undertaken in the 1980s. Paladin acquired the deposit in 1997, accepted a Bankable Feasibility Study early in 2007, and, following environmental approval, undertook a $220 million development. The mine was opened in April 2009.
Paladin Energy (Africa) Ltd holds Paladin’s 85 percent interest following the Development Agreement with the Government of Malawi in control of the remaining 15 percent. Kayelekera production commenced in mid-2009, and in 2012 production reached 1103 tU, followed by 1134 tU in 2013.
Malawi: Paladin Starts Discharging Uranium Wastes Into Public Rivers, AllAfrica, By Bishop Witmos Karonga April 23: Few months after Paladin Africa Limited differed with civil society organizations (CSOs) and some chiefs in Karonga over the disposition of uranium wastes into public water, the company has started discharging the effluent into Sere River.
Paladin Africa Limited, a member of the Paladin Energy group of companies, suspended its operations at Kayelekera Mine in the district in May, 2014, due to unstable uranium prices at an international market. The project is now on care and maintenance.
Malawi News Agency (Mana) has established Paladin invited Paramount Chief Kyungu and the District Commissioner (DC) for Karonga, Rosemary Moyo, to a meeting in Lilongwe early April this year (2015),to brief them about the company’s recent decision.
Paladin Africa Acting General Manager in Malawi, Greg Walker, confirmed in a telephone interview that the company, indeed, started releasing the uranium wastes into the public rivers………
Sere River flows into North Rukuru River, then into Lake Malawi.
When asked why the company decided to brief Paramount Chief Kyungu and the Karonga DC about their action in Lilongwe instead of explaining it to the general populace of Karonga, Walker said the company conducted enough meetings with relevant authorities in the district……..
Despite the decision by Paladin to start discharging its effluent into the public water, some people in the district feet it would have been safer if the company had constructed another dam where the wastes would be transferred into.
Chairperson for Karonga District Council, Patrick Kishombe, said in an interview the plan to release the waste water from the storage dam into Sere River is raising fears amongst communities who feel the water is not fully treated and could be a health hazard.
“This, I believe, will lead into many hazards, like killing of fish in Lake Malawi and may also cause skin cancer to some people,” said Kishombe.
Uranium contains gamma rays, particles that cause skin cancer to human kind, according to experts.
In developed nations, mining companies construct a stable tank that stores all the wastes, ready for transportation to recommended disposal sites. ……http://allafrica.com/stories/201504231621.html
Government officials in Malawi are upset about the situation. “I am very shocked with the situation I have seen after monitoring the mine here and all my questions to the Paladin boss have not been answered satisfactory”
Meanwhile international experts are starting to question the benefits of the Kayelekera mine
Australian Uranium Mining Company Accused of Contaminating Lake Malawi By Mayu Chang……Global Research, January 29, 2015 CorpWatch Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 million people in three countries – Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The company began uranium mining operations in Malawi in 2009 although it suspended operations last year after ore prices fell.
“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November,” wrote Rafiq Hajat of Malawi’s Institute for Policy Interaction on Facebook. “[At] a radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish].”……………“Uranium is radioactive and that with open-pit mining, like the one to be conducted at Kayelekera, the soil drains into rivers and contaminates the water,” Titus Mvalo, a lawyer representing several civil society organizations in Malawi, told Inter Press Service in 2007. “When humans drink the water, it damages kidneys and causes cancer.”
At the time, the activist groups warned that the mine would pose a threat to Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest freshwater lake, which is a major source of drinking water and fish for the country. Christopher Mwambene, the executive director of Coordination Union for Rehabilitation of the Environment (CURE), a Blantyre-based environmental NGO, estimated that catch from the lake provides 20 percent of the protein requirement for Malawi’s population.
Perhaps even more damning was the assertion that Paladin was planning to use lower standards to build the Kayelekera mine. “Paladin are certainly not meeting Australian standards and they would not get approval in Australia if they were to present the same EIS here.” Dr. Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineering professor at Monash University in Melbourne, told ABC television news in 2007.
Mudd says that uranium tailings (waste) are typically stored under the water table in Australia and Canada, to reduce the risk of contamination. In Malawi, however, Paladin chose to store the tailings above ground behind a specially contructed dam.
“What Paladin is proposing for Kayelekera is it will depend on what happens with the rainfall and climate, but every few years or so allowing the excess build-up of water to be discharged into the local river system and local water resources,” Mudd added.
“This dam is in a catchment area of the stream,” Reinford Mwangonde, the executive director of Citizens for Justice, an NGO in Malawi, told ABC at the time. “The stream runs into Lake Malawi. A number of people in the community depend on that river for domestic water purposes.”
Mudd’s predictions appear to have come true. On January 5, a heavy storm caused the liner in a Kayelekera run-off tank to rupture, releasing up to 500 cubic meters of waste…………….
Government officials in Malawi are upset about the situation. “I am very shocked with the situation I have seen after monitoring the mine here and all my questions to the Paladin boss have not been answered satisfactory,” Alex Major, the deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Natural Resources and Climate Change Committee told a local town hall meeting on January 10.
Meanwhile international experts are starting to question the benefits of the Kayelekera mine. After visiting the country last July, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, came out against the project. “The criticism is the deals could have been much more equitable, and could have allowed Malawi to use its resources better for the benefit of the population,” he told ABC television news in Australia.
In any case, today Malawi is no longer benefiting financially from Paladin’s operations. ……..
Experts says that the ultimate costs of the Kayelekera mine could be very high. “Uranium mining is associated with high environmental impacts and human health risks’” Fleur Scheele, then researcher at the World Information Service on Energy (WISE), an Amsterdam-based anti-nuclear organization, and author of a report on uranium mining in Africa published in 2011. “The costs of rehabilitation of the mining area are often many times higher than the total revenues derived during the mine’s entire lifetime.”http://www.globalresearch.ca/australian-uranium-mining-company-accused-of-contaminating-lake-malawi/5428142
The lake provides water for drinking and domestic use to millions of Malawians. Part of the lake is protected as a national park, and it is inhabited by more than 850 cichlid fish species found nowhere else on Earth.
Malawi: Paladin Accused of Discharging Uranium-Contaminated Sludge in Lake Malawi http://allafrica.com/stories/201412301012.html A coalition of Malawi civil society organisations (CSOs) has accused Paladin Energy Ltd, a company that is mining Uranium ore at Kayerekera in the northern district of Karonga over reports the mining company is secretly discharging into Lake Malawi uranium contaminated sludge from the tailings dam at the mining site.
Renowned human rights activist, Rafiq Hajat shared a report compiled by a members of the Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) in which it is alleged paladin is discharging uranium sludge from Kayerekera into Lake Malawi.
“A radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish]. Collectiong as part of their relish. The cause not yet known. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November but Government was not forth coming (sich)” reads part of the post.
Paladin had aroused the wrath of the coalition of the CSOs under the banner of Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) over reports which emerged late November that Paladin Energy was planning of discharging uranium mining sludge into the Sere and North Rukuru rivers.
The toxic substances that would flow from the tailings pond at the Kayelekera Uranium Mine into Lake Malawi 50 kilometers (30 miles) downstream include waste uranium rock, acids, arsenic and other chemicals used in processing the uranium ore, the coalition fears.
“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water and the trip was one of the verification. This is terrible news and may have catastrophic ramifications if not checked immediately.” Reads the statement shared by Hajat.
However, in a statement issued last month, Paladin Energy stated that water from its tailings dam at Kayelekera uranium mine which is discharging into the North Rukuru River poses no human or environmental risks.
The process has been reviewed and agreed by relevant agencies of the Government of Malawi, which is imposing conditions regulating critical water quality parameters, including uranium, consistent with international guidelines” a statement issued in November by Paladin Energy stated.
The company also said that it plans to start discharging the water in early 2015 and that reports it is discharging the contaminated wastes are not true.
Lake Malawi in eastern Africa is the world’s ninth largest lake, some 580 kilometers (360 miles) long, and 75 kilometres (47 miles) wide at its widest point. It extends into Malawi’s neighbours Tanzania and Mozambique.
The lake provides water for drinking and domestic use to millions of Malawians. Part of the lake is protected as a national park, and it is inhabited by more than 850 cichlid fish species found nowhere else on Earth.
Paladin Africa is the Malawi subsidiary of Australian mining giant Paladin Energy Ltd, with 15 percent owned by the Government of Malawi.
Last year, Paladin Africa’s Kayelekera Mine in Karonga produced 1,066 metric tonnes of U3O8, triuranium octoxide, a compound of uranium. One of the more popular forms of yellowcake, U3O8 is converted to uranium hexafluoride to make enriched uranium for use in nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.
Paladin to shut its uranium mine, Australian Mining, 27 May, 2014 Cole Latimer Paladin has announced it will cease production at its Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi. It comes after the miner advised it would place the operation in to care and maintenance earlier this year. According to Paladin it is ceasing production “due to reasons beyond the company’s control and related to the depressed uranium prices”. On May 21 it halted all operations at the mine, and will now cease supplying uranium to the global market, causing a drop of around 3.3 million pounds of supply per annum. “The outcome is an unfortunate but direct consequence of the continuing deterioration in the uranium price,” the company said in a statement. “Certain estimates now place up to 60% of current annual global production with costs above the current spot price, which is unsustainable.”…..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/paladin-to-shut-its-uranium-mine
In the wake of the Kayelekera scam, Malawi needs to realise that tax is a governance issue. …. The cost of tax incentives given to Paladin is enormous. We can’t sustain it.
Malawi gov’t and Paladin: Act on Kayelekera uranium raw deal now! Nyasa Times, By Veronica Maele-Magombe July 30, 2013 Since last week’s stinging observation by UnitedNations (UN) Special Raportuer on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter regarding Malawi’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine deal, two elusive culprits remain pretty much intact in their hard shells. It is as if the country’s most guarded contract between government and Australian company, Paladin Africa Ltd has not been unravelled as the worst possible swindle. Continue reading
UN rubbishes Malawi’s Paladin uranium deal, fertilizer subsidy By Hudson Mphande, Nyasa Times July 23, 2013 United Nations Special Raportuer on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter who was in Malawi for an assessment of the food situation in the country has rubbished Kayerekera uranium mine deal between Malawi and Australian Paladin Mining Company saying the Southern African country has had a raw deal that is robbing the poor.
The UN Raportuer said the uranium mining deal was one of the investments in Malawi through which the country is losing resources that could otherwise make a difference in food security and other pro-poor initiatives. He said in the life span of the mine Malawi is expected to lose almost US$281 million…
“Mining companies are exempt from customs duty, excise duty, value added taxes on mining machinery, plant and equipment. They can also sign special deals on the rate of royalty owed to the government. I believe that there are more reasons that investors would come to Malawi without such incentives,” he said.
De Schutter was addressing journalists in the capital Lilongwe at the end of his 11-day tour of the country.
He bemoaned that due to illicit financial flows, tax envasion as well as tax incentives that the country offer to both domestic and foreign companies currently Malawi was failing to get maximum use of its resources.
De Schutter said that revenue losses from special tax incentives to Paladin Africa Mining alone are estimated at almost K67 billion (US$205 milion) since the mine started its operations and could reach almost K92 billion (US$281 million) over its13-year lifespan.
“Paladin alone is costing the budget more than US$20 million (almost K8 billion) a year in taxes,” he said.
He added: “I am convinced that unless combined with a comprehensive enhancement and optimisation of tax revenue, current macro-economic reforms may not have substantive positive impacts. There is need for
Malawi to examine its national tax laws and policies towards preventing illicit capital flight. As mining develops, Malawi can simply not afford business-as-usual.”
The UN Special Raportuer said it is estimated that the country has lost over 10 percent of its growth domestic product (GDP) to illicit outflows and tax evasion over the period 1980 to 2009……..
De Schutter also specifically expressed concerns on the country’s current minimum wage currently at K371 ($1.12) per day, describing it as the lowest in the world…… The UN special rapporteur said he will give a report and his recommendations to both the UN Human Rights Commission and the Malawi Government. http://www.nyasatimes.com/2013/07/23/un-rubbishes-malawis-paladin-uranium-deal-fertilizer-subsidy/
all a fat lie. Paladin and many other foreign multinational mining countries are least interested to contributing to the Malawi economic growth. They are here to milk the country – exploiting all that it has rich in minerals and dump us when the time is right even poorer.
Killing Malawians through the rotten extractives deals: The case of Paladin’s uranium mining Nyasa Times, by Patrica Masinga, 24 April 13, Malawi has in the few weeks been engaged by a plethora of stakeholders discussing strategies to revive, or more on the ground, reclaim the benefits that Malawians are been milked of by the so-called extractive industry multi-national corporations.
They call themselves investors, and government believes that the Malawi Development Goals (MDGs – who cares if it’s the second phase) will be boosted, particularly that mining alone through Kayerekera of Paladin Energy Limited group of companies (trading as Paladin (Africa) Ltd in Malawi?) could provide a large economic base.
But that is all a fat lie. Paladin and many other foreign multinational mining countries are least interested to contributing to the Malawi economic growth. They are here to milk the country – exploiting all that it has rich in minerals and dump us when the time is right even poorer.
Imagine, to screw Malawians of their rightful economic gains, the company, incorporated in Australia first listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on March 29, 1994 under code ‘PDN’, and quickly changed its name from Paladin Resources NL to Paladin Resources Ltd in 2000 and listed under the Toronto Stock Exchnage (TSX) in Canada April 29, 2005, and again changed its name to Paladin Energy Ltd in November 2007 and listed on the Namibian Stock Exchnage on February 2008.
By such trends, one is compelled to question the motive, considering also that in Namibia itself the company owns the Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine where it started production in 2008 and has Kayerekera Uranium Mine as its second largest mining venture in this part of Africa acting also as a good supllment to the Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine.They call themselves investors, and government believes that the Malawi Development Goals (MDGs – who cares if it’s the second phase) will be boosted, particularly that mining alone through Kayerekera of Paladin Energy Limited group of companies (trading as Paladin (Africa) Ltd in Malawi?) could provide a large economic base.
But that is all a fat lie. Paladin and many other foreign multinational mining countries are least interested to contributing to the Malawi economic growth. They are here to milk the country – exploiting all that it has rich in minerals and dump us when the time is right even poorer. Continue reading
Some of the issues pertain to female worker’s miscarriages; [CEO] Duvenhage’s apparent failure to engage with the union; the company’s reluctance to give workers a “single cent” for an annual increment; unfair performance bonuses; nepotism and corruption.
Australian-based Paladin Energy Ltd. (TSE:PDN) owns 100% interest in the mine.
Protests hit second largest uranium mine in Namibia http://www.mining.com/protests-hit-second-largest-uranium-mine-in-namibia-85919/ Vladimir Basov | July 2, 2013 About 300 workers, including mine staff and contractor employees, picketed at Langer Heinrich Uranium (LHU) mine last Thursday over pay and working conditions, The Namibian reported.
Workers and media were barred from the minesite where the demonstration was supposed to take place although the protesters had organized the peaceful demonstration at the beginning of last week and had announced it to the mine’s management.
As a result, all day shift buses were forced to stop inside the concession area where workers then had to disembark – about five kilometres away from the actual site. To their dismay, the protesters were forced to picket at the concession area. The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) branch executives felt that the mine’s management snubbed what it termed a legal and democratic action. Continue reading
Paladin boss earnings increase while Kayelekera cut jobs http://www.nyasatimes.com/2013/02/14/paladin-boss-gets-massive-pay-hike-after-malawi-job-cuts/ By Nyasa Times Reporter February 14, 2013 Despite uranium miner, Paladin Energy limited claiming that its Malawi operations in the northern district of Karonga at Kayelekera are operating on massive losses and that world uranium prices are low, the company’s managing director John Borshoff elected to cash in his leave entitlementment, Nyasa Times has established.
Paladin’s annual report reveals that despite Borshoff honouring a promise to cut his salary by 25% between November 2011 and November 2012 – a promise he extended to June 2013, the CEO was able to boost his remuneration after a review of annual leave entitlements thereby pocketing a 52% rise in earnings. The review focused on annual and long-service leave in a bid to cut Paladin’s liabilities, and Borshoff responded by cashing out 220 days of leave.The transaction approaved by the remuneration Committee and the board netted Borshoff $1,717,000 and helped increase his remuneration to $3,464,000, from $2.26 million in 2012.
The uranium miner recently retrenched 110 staff from its Kayelekera mine in Malawi in an austerity drive which others commentators fault Boshoff for excercising his right to cash in the leave entitlement when local staff just had their calls for a 66 per cent pay rise rejected.
”Its total mockery to the Malawian workers at Kayelekera who were retrenched but have not had their benefits yet. These people are suffering. That’s a wake-up call to Malawi Government that Paladin is making profits despite plunge in prices” Karonga Business Community Chairperson Wavisanga Silungwe said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.
“While production has gone up, the uranium price has not; hence Kayelekera continues to operate at a loss. We had warned government that this situation was unsustainable and would lead to job losses unless the uranium price improved, which it has not,” said Paladin’s (African) Ltd General Manager, international affairs, Greg Walker.
Walker said the staff reduction is in “response to economic pressures on the company caused by the continuing depressed uranium price” Borshoff’s contract with Paladin has one year left, and provides him with three months’ long-service leave for every five years of service. He is entitled to two years of double base salary when he retires or has his employment terminated.
the development has stunned most workers who think management’s move is aimed at eliminating workers deemed to be fighting for the employees’ welfare.Management already eliminated other employees through “unfair dismissals and retrenchment” of 25th January 2013.
Five held for ‘bomb’ threats at Paladin’s Malawi uranium mine, Nyasa Times By Nyasa Times Reporter, June 19, 2013 Malawi Police in the northern border district of Karonga are keeping in custody five Kayelekera Uranium Mine workers on allegations they threatened management to blow up the mine.
The five, arrested last Friday, are also suspected of being linked to the theft of explosives worth US$5780.76 (about K2, 150, 600) belonging to China Road and Bridge Construction Company in Chitipa.
There was no immediate comment from Karonga Police as officers said they are “still investigating”. But Nyasa Times sources said the five were arrested on orders from Paladin Energy Limited (owners of Kayelekera). The five, who are production plant operators, are reported to have threatened Kayelekera management that they would blow up the process plant if their salaries were not increased and foreign workers laid off…….. Continue reading
THE CASE OF PALADIN’S KAYELEKERA URANIUM MINE: REPORT RELEASED ON THE REVENUE COSTS AND BENEFITS TO MALAWI, Mining in Malawi, 23 May 13 The Australian mining company Paladin Energy and its subsidiaries along with the Malawi-based Kayelekera Uranium Project, in which it has an 85% stake, were the subject of much discussion this evening in Lilongwe at the launch of the report The Revenue Costs and Benefits of Foreign Direct Investment in the Extractive Industry in Malawi: The Case of Kayelekera Uranium Mine. The report explores what it describes as Malawi’s largest Foreign Direct Investment* and the extent to which Malawi is benefiting. It concludes that ”Malawi is getting a raw deal from the mining and exploitation of uranium by Kayelekera Mine”…….
At the launch of the report, Dalitso Kubalasa and Collins Magalasi, the executive directors of MEJN and AFRODAD respectively, spoke briefly before AFRODAD’s Tafadzwa Chikumbu presented the research findings. This paved the way for a lively question and answer session with questions raised about whether or not parliament is ready to renegotiate the terms of the agreement with Paladin, what has happened to the man who lost his sight due to “kayelekera radiation” and if mining revenue in Malawi therefore “dirty money”.
This discussion was followed by the official launch of the report by the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juliana Mphande who exclaimed that she was “appalled to note that incentives offered to Paladin have severe implication to Government revenue and require attention of parliament”. She outlined the areas requiring parliamentary investigation and debate…..
Below is a summary of the main findings: Continue reading
Comment on article Man loses sight due to Kayelekera radiation rshaba , 20 May 13, Does this mean that Paladin does not offer protective clothing including protective glasses to its employees? This is a no-brainer for someone dealing with radioactive substance business. I am shocked! It seems Paladin is taking advantage in people’s ignorance by not investing in appropriate protection especially for its front-line employees doing the “dirty” work. I could understand if it were a Chinese or Indian based company,
BUT Australian & Canadian based, my foot! Where are the government regulators? This should be a basic issue on their “checklist”: no protection and insurance cover for front-line staff, no business, simple and straight forward. The problem is that once someone has been exposed to radioactivity then whoever or whatever they come into contact with, will indirectly be exposed to radioactivity. Does the Government run regular radioactive on water, foods etc around the area? http://www.bnltimes.com/index.php/sunday-times/headlines/national/15108-man-loses-sight-due-to-kayelekera-radiation
Man loses sight due to Kayelekera radiation, SUNDAY TIMES, 19 MAY 2013 KAREN MSISKA It is all doom and gloom for a Kayelekera Uranium Mine ex-employee who has lost his sight, his job and any means of eking out a leaving to fend for his extended family.
On July 7, 2010, Abraham Siliwonde started working as a labourer at [Australian] Paladin Africa’s Kayelekera Mine in Karonga bubbling with hope that he would use the remuneration to improve living standards in his household.
But less than three years later, the 31-year-old, along with his six children and five wards from his deceased relatives, is a mere dependent on a small banana business his wife conducts at Karonga town market.
He lost sight in July 2012 and medical examinations have linked his condition, uveitis or inflammation of the uvea – the part of the eye that contains the iris and ciliary body and choroid – to exposure to radioactive chemicals.
Uranium ore is known to be highly radioactive.”In February 2012, I was moved to spotting. This is where one stands and guides the dumpers on where to drop the uranium ore from the pit as it is set to get into the crusher, the first point in uranium processing,” said Siliwonde on Friday.
“I was guiding dumpers carrying high grade uranium ore; the other grades are low and medium. I could feel intense heat from lumps of uranium ore and the next day I would be passing yellowish urine and feeling malarial symptoms.” He said regardless of the gear one puts on while at spotting, they feel the heat being emitted by the uranium ore, stressing “the situation is worsened by supervisors who keep people there longer than more productive.”
He said he was drafted into driving dumpers in January 2012 but by July, he had lost his vision and instead of working, he was a continuous visitor to health facilities seeking to restore his vision. ”After a series of visits to the mine clinic at Kayelekera, I was referred to Karonga district hospital where I was further referred to Mzuzu central hospital on 30 November 2012,” he added.
“At Mzuzu Central Hospital, they asked whether I had an eye operation before because they said my eyes had cracks. I underwent strenuous tests but after telling them the environment I was working in, they identified exposure to radiation as the possible cause and referred me to Kamuzu Central Hospital.”
According to medical documents The Sunday Times has seen, Siliwonde’s reference to Kamuzu Central Hospital’s Lions Sight First Eye Hospital was “to determine if patient’s condition may indeed be due to uranium dust exposure.” His situation was not improving even with spectacles. A reference report dated April 15, 2013 indicates that Siliwonde’s acuity (sharpness of vision) for both eyes had slightly improved to 6/36 from 6/60.
A report signed by Dr J Msosa, Chief Ophthalmologist at Lions Sight First Eye hospital, confirms exposure to radiation as the possible cause.
Part of the report reads: “The vitritis (posterior uveitis) may indeed be due to exposure to radiation. It is well known that all radioactive substances can cause radiation retinopathy which appears like posterior uveitis………
“The only source of income is a small banana business my wife conducts. It’s a pity that the situation at Kayelekera is not closely monitored. A lot of people are suffering because they are exposed to radioactive dust blowing from the pit area since the surface is not kept wet as per agreement.”
However, Paladin officials pushed the bucket to one of their contractors. In response to an emailed questionnaire, Paladin Energy Limited’s General Manager – International Affairs, Greg Walker, said Siliwonde was employed by one of their contractors at the mine. He added that the issue has not been brought to Paladin’s attention……http://www.bnltimes.com/index.php/sunday-times/headlines/national/15108-man-loses-sight-due-to-kayelekera-radiation
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
- climate change
- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
- MIDDLE EAST
- NORTH AMERICA
- SOUTH AMERICA
- Christina's notes
- Christina's themes
- RARE EARTHS
- resources – print
- Resources -audiovicual