nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Australium uranium company Paladin going bust, leaving Malawi with a horrible environmental mess

Paladin has ignored our requests to provide its estimate of the cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera, but we can safely say that the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond. Just keeping Kayelekera in care-and-maintenance costs US$1012 million annually.

As things stand, if Paladin goes bankrupt and fails to rehabilitate Kayelekera, either rehabilitation will be coordinated and funded by the Malawian government (with a small fraction of the cost coming from Paladin’s bond) or the mine-site will not be rehabilitated at all.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government.

The company’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of countless critical reports.

Julie Bishop, the WA government, Paladin and its administrators from KPMG need to liaise with the Malawian government and Malawian civil society to sort the rehabilitation of Kayelekera. An obvious starting point would be to prioritise the rehabilitation of Kayelekera if and when Paladin goes bankrupt and its carcass is being divided up. (picture below shows uranium sludge going to river)

Australian uranium miner goes bust ‒ so who cleans up its mess in Africa? By Morgan Somerville and Jim Green, Online Opinion, 8 November 2017http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19394&page=0

Perth-based uranium mining company Paladin Energy was put into administration in July and the company is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Critics of the uranium industry won’t miss the company if it disappears. Other uranium mining companies won’t miss Paladin; in an overcrowded market, they will be pleased to have less competition.

But the looming bankruptcy does pose one major problem. Paladin’s Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa’, needs to be rehabilitated and Paladin hasn’t set aside nearly enough money for the job.

Under the leadership of founder and CEO John Borshoff, described as the grandfather of Australian uranium, Paladin has operated two uranium mines over the past decade. The Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia was opened in 2007, and Kayelekera in 2009.

They were heady days ‒ there was an endless talk about a nuclear power ‘renaissance’ and the uranium price tripled between June 2006 and June 2007. The Australian Financial Review reflected on Paladin’s glory days: “John Borshoff was once one of Western Australia’s wealthiest businessmen. The founder of Perth-based Paladin Energy developed an enviable portfolio of African uranium mines supposed to satiate booming global demand for yellowcake. When the company’s Langer Heinrich mine began shipments in March 2007, as the spot price for uranium eclipsed $US100 per pound, Paladin was worth more than $4 billion.”

Paladin was once the best-­performed stock in the world according to The Australian newspaper. The company’s share price went from one cent in 2003 to A$10.80 in 2007. Borshoff made his debut on the Business Review Weekly’s ‘Rich 200’ list in 2007 with estimated wealth of A$205 million.

But the good times didn’t last. The uranium bubble burst in mid-2007, and the Fukushima disaster in 2011 ensured that there would be no nuclear power renaissance and that the uranium industry would remain depressed for years to come. Borshoff left Paladin in 2015, and in 2016 Paladin’s new CEO Alexander Molyneux said that “it has never been a worse time for uranium miners”.

The loss-making Kayelekera mine in Malawi was put into care-and-maintenance in July 2014, leaving Paladin with the modest Langer Heinrich mine plus a number of projects the company describes as ‘nonproducing assets’ (such as uranium projects in jurisdictions that ban uranium mining).

Paladin was put into administration in July this year, unable to pay its debts. Even if Paladin sold its 75% stake in Langer Heinrich, its only revenue-raising project, it couldn’t repay all its debts.

Administrators from KPMG are attempting to sort out the mess and bondholders are reportedly being asked to fund a recapitalisation of Paladin. Bankruptcy would seem a much more likely option given the weakness of the company and the weakness of the global uranium market.

Paladin has said that a uranium price of about US$75 per pound would be required for Kayelekera to become economically viable ‒  almost four times the current uranium spot price, and well over twice the current long-term contract price. Even if the uranium price did rebound, Kayelekera would operate for only around four years; it isn’t a large deposit.

The likelihood of uranium prices reaching US$75 in the foreseeable future is near-zero. John Borshoff said in 2013 that the uranium industry “is definitely in crisis … and is showing all the symptoms of a mid-term paralysis”. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd said in May 2014 that the industry is set for “a long period of relatively low prices, in which uranium producers will find it hard to make a living”. Nick Carter from Ux Consulting said in April 2016 that he did not anticipate a uranium supply deficit until the late 2020s. Other industry insiders and market analysts have made similar comments about the bleak future for uranium ‒ and the bondholders being asked to recapitalise Paladin would surely know that their money would be better invested in a long-shot at Flemington.

Who cleans up Kayelekera?

Assuming Paladin goes bankrupt, who cleans up the Kayelekera open-pit uranium mine? The company was required to lodge a US$10 million Environmental Performance Bond with Malawian banks, and presumably that money can be tapped to rehabilitate Kayelekera. But US$10 million won’t scratch the surface. According to a Malawian NGO, the rehabilitation cost is estimated at US$100 million ‒ ten times the amount set aside by Paladin. The cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium in the Northern Territory ‒ also an open-pit uranium mine, albeit larger than Kayelekera ‒ is estimated at just under US$500 million.

Paladin has ignored our requests to provide its estimate of the cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera, but we can safely say that the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond. Just keeping Kayelekera in care-and-maintenance costs US$1012 million annually.

As things stand, if Paladin goes bankrupt and fails to rehabilitate Kayelekera, either rehabilitation will be coordinated and funded by the Malawian government (with a small fraction of the cost coming from Paladin’s bond) or the mine-site will not be rehabilitated at all.

Is it reasonable for Australia, a relatively wealthy country, to leave it to the overstretched, under-resourced government of an impoverished African nation to clean up the mess left behind by an Australian mining company? If the Malawian government cleans up Paladin’s mess, that will necessarily come at the expense of other priorities. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to a 2013 U.N. report, more than half the population live below the poverty line, and about half of all children under the age of five show signs of chronic malnutrition.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should intervene to sort out the situation at Kayelekera and to prevent a repetition of this fiasco. We imagine that the Minister’s eyes might glaze over in response to a moral argument about the importance of Australia being a good global citizen. But there is also a hard-headed commercial argument for intervention to clean up Kayelekera.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government. Australia is set to become the biggest international miner on the African continent, perhaps as early as this year, according to the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group. But Australian companies can’t expect to be welcomed if travesties such as Kayelekera remain resolved.

‘Overly sophisticated’

Back in 2006, John Borshoff told ABC television that Australia and Canada have become “overly sophisticated” with their thinking about environmental and social issues associated with the mining industry. Hence Paladin’s focus on projects in Africa.

One advantage ‒ if that’s the word ‒ of mining in Africa is that Paladin hasn’t had to set aside sufficient funds to rehabilitate Kayelekera. The company’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of countless critical reports.

Paladin has lost money on Kayelekera, and the economic benefits for Malawi have been pitiful. Paladin has exploited the country’s poverty to secure numerous reductions and exemptions from payments normally required by foreign investors. United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter noted in a 2013 report that “revenue losses from special incentives given to Australian mining company Paladin Energy, which manages the Kayelekera uranium mine, are estimated to amount to at least US$205 million (MWK 67 billion), and could be up to US$281 million (MWK 92 billion) over the 13 year lifespan of the mine.”

The official line from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is that “mining offers African countries an unparalleled opportunity to stimulate growth and reduce poverty. If well managed, the extractives sector can drive innovation, generate revenue to fund critical social services and upgrade productive physical infrastructure, and directly and indirectly create jobs.”

The reality at Kayelekera is starkly different from the picture painted by the bureaucrats in Canberra.

Two years ago, then WA Premier Colin Barnett told a mining conference in South Africa that Australian mining companies have “brought both expertise and ethical standards. It is a matter of pride for many companies that the standards applied in Australia are also applied in Africa.”

But standards at Kayelekera fall a long way short of Australian standards. Moreover, Barnett’s claims sit uncomfortably with the highly critical findings arising from a detailed investigation by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists. The Consortium noted in its 2015 report that since 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian mining companies in Africa (there have been six deaths at Kayelekera). The reportfurther stated: “Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.”

Not even Collin Barnett would argue that Paladin is a source of pride for Australia. Quite the opposite. Likewise, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop surely didn’t have Paladin’s open-cut mine in mind when she told the Africa Down Under mining conference in Perth in September that many Australian mining projects in Africa are outposts of good governance and that the “Australian Government encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons-learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration.”

Julie Bishop, the WA government, Paladin and its administrators from KPMG need to liaise with the Malawian government and Malawian civil society to sort the rehabilitation of Kayelekera. An obvious starting point would be to prioritise the rehabilitation of Kayelekera if and when Paladin goes bankrupt and its carcass is being divided up. Surely Kayelekera should take precedence over debtors such as French state-owned utility EDF, which is owed US$277 million by Paladin ‒ all the more so since the French state has its own sordid history of uranium mining in Africa.

Morgan Somerville is an International Relations student at La Trobe University. Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

Advertisements

November 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, Malawi, Uranium | Leave a comment

Vulnerable to Climate Change – Mphampha, Malawi

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots  Global warming will not affect everyone equally. Here we look at seven key regions to see how each is tackling the consequences of climate change, Guardian, John Vidal, 23 June 17

Mphampha, Malawi

Late last year, the temperature in southern Malawi in southern Africa rose to more than 46C. A long regional drought crossing Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar and Tanzania had scorched and killed the staple maize crop and millions of people who had not seen rain for more than a year depended on food aid. Long-term climate data in southern Africa is sparse, but studies backed by oral evidence from villagers confirm the region is a climate hotspot where droughts are becoming more frequent, rains less regular, food supplies less certain, and the dry spells and floods are lasting longer.

With more than 90% of Malawi and the region depending on rain-fed agriculture, it does not need scientists to tell people that the climate is changing. I sat down with villagers near Nsanje in the south of Malawi.

“I know what it is to go hungry,” says Elvas Munthali, a Malawian aid worker. “My family depended on farming. The climate is changing. Now we plant maize at the end of December or even January; we used to do that in November.”

Patrick Kamzitu, a health worker in Nambuma, says: “It is much warmer now. The rains come and we plant but then there is a dry spell. The dry spells and the rains are heavier but shorter.”

One of best studies comes from the Chiwawa district near Nsanje, close to the Mozambique border. Detailed research by the University of Malawi, backed by 50 years of rainfall and temperature data, established that rains, floods, strong winds, high temperatures and droughts were all becoming more common.

The story is more or less repeated across southern Africa and backed by governments and scientific modeling. USAid, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and IPCC assessments suggest average annual temperatures rose nearly 1C between 1960 and 2006.

Looking ahead, scientists expect average annual temperatures across southern Africa to soar, possibly as much as 3C by the 2060s, to 5C by the 2090s – a temperature that would render most human life nearly impossible. But estimates vary greatly. Rainfall, says USAid, could decrease in some places by 13% and increase in others by 32%.

All African countries know that they must adapt their farming, restore their forests, improve their water supplies and grow their economies quickly to have any chance of surviving climate change. But the adaptation money pledged to these, the world’s poorest countries, by the rich at successive UN climate summits has barely started to trickle through.

Changes could be catastrophic. In North Africa, Egypt could lose 15% of its wheat crop if temperatures increase 2C – 36% if they rise 4C. Morocco expects crop yields to remain stable up to about 2030, but then to drop quickly afterward.

Conversely, a study of 11 west African countries from the International Food Policy Research Institute expects some farmers to be able to grow more food as temperatures rise and rainfall increases. Climate change may mean Nigeria, Ghana and Togo can grow and export more sorghum, raised for grain.

But most African countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change and have no reason to expect it will improve their lot. Instead of waiting for western money, they are pressing ahead where they can with water conservation, tree planting and small-scale irrigation schemes. Drought and flood resistant crops are being adopted by the few, but the odds of more severe droughts and floods are high and the resources to resist them are slim…..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/23/from-heatwaves-to-hurricanes-floods-to-famine-seven-climate-change-hotspots?CMP=share_btn_tw

June 24, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Malawi | Leave a comment

UK-Australian and French uranium companies polluting the “unpolluted” African States

uranium-oreUranium from Russia, with love, Ecologist, Nick Meynen 4th August, 2016

“………..the bigger issue should be that uranium mining is just a very dirty business that we didn’t clean up but source out. France used to have 200+ uranium mines but thanks to better care for environment and workers the last one closed in 2001. Instead, new ones were opened in places like NigerNamibia and Malawi. In short: places where we can shift the real costs from uranium mining to the people and environment. As a matter of fact, CEOs in the business are quite frank about that. The former CEO of Paladin, John Borshoff, an Australian uranium producer who opened mines in Namibia, said that Canadian and Australian environmental norms are “over-sophisticated“. What he actually means is that in African countries you don’t need to pay much or anything at all to “protect” either your workers or the people living in the vicinity from dying from cancer due to exposure to uranium.

He’s just implementing the Lawrence Summers Principle. This ‘principle’ originates from a 1991 memo written or dictated by Summers whilst he was the World Bank’s chief economist. In this memo, he promoted dumping toxic waste in the Third World for economic reasons: “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? […] A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”

The uranium sector squared up to that. But for how much longer will it get away with that?

Last time rebels in Mali came too close to the AREVA mines in Niger for comfort, France suddenly sent in their army. Under some humanitarian pretext. And if rebels don’t succeed in capturing these remote mines, the global environmental justice movement might just succeed in closing a couple of them down.

The legacy from uranium mining

Being part of that movement, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of making a toxic tour around a now closed uranium mine in Bulgaria. Massive amounts of toxic sludge were stored behind a weak dam that showed signs of distress after heavy rains caused a spill in 2009. Old EU money was still keeping the dam up but as we’re talking about radioactive waste, money will need to keep flowing to dam repairs for millennia to come.

Since 1992, when the mines closed, and for time immemorial, that will be public money. And that’s how it goes with uranium mines in places with weak or no legislation: short-term private profits followed by perpetual public losses. In Bulgaria the people are still lucky enough to be in the EU with at least some environmental regulations and EU money for environmental protections. The same goes for other EU countries like France, which has dozens of zombie mines: dead but still active. The US also has plenty more zombie mines. The lands of the Navajo Nation include over 500 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) as well as homes and drinking water sources with elevated levels of radiation. Despite the fact that they stopped operating in 1986, new and related lung cancers, bone cancers and impaired kidney functions keep appearing.

But while EU and US now have enough safeguards to keep their own uranium safe under the ground, there’s nothing of that in Namibia or Niger. These two countries are rising players on the uranium market, both exporting their uranium to the EU. Niger has now produced more uranium than France ever did in it’s whole history. It’s here that UK-Australian and French companies are doing the dirty digging that destroys local environment and populace.

Three reports from the EU-funded EJOLT project deal with the environmental and social issues related to uranium mining. One deals with the impacts, one concentrates on a mine in Malawi and the third dwells on the examples of successful resistance to big mining in general.

Bruno Chareyron, a French nuclear engineer who authored most of these reports, has been carrying out toxic tours along uranium mines for the last two decades. That’s not always an easy job, with for example the police confiscating most of your measuring equipment upon arrival in Niger. Nevertheless, Bruno was able to measure that radioactive scrap metal from the mines and mills is sold on the market. Waste rocks from the mines were used to pave roads, build homes and even at the local hospital where the radiation was 100 times above normal. Piles of radioactive waste were left in open air, unprotected, next to two cities with a total population of 120.000.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Where is uranium in the whole debate about nuclear energy? It’s usually only mentioned when the industry says: uranium is only a tiny part of the total cost of our energy model, unlike the situation in the gas and oil industry.

Well, there’s a reason why it’s only a tiny part of the total cost and it’s called cost shifting.

Ecological economists have given names to processes witnessed in the uranium sector:accumulation by contaminationecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. More and more, people all over the world are coming together to resist against environmental justice.

Our EU and US based nuclear power is currently coming at the cost of poisoning people in Africa. But it begs the question: are we ready to face that reality?

This Author:

Nick Meynen is one of The Ecologist New Voices contributors. He writes blogs and bookshttp://www.epo.be/uitgeverij/boekinfo_auteur.php?isbn=9789064455803 on topics like environmental justice, globalization and human-nature relationships.

When not wandering in the activist universe or his Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/nick.meynen
is dead, he’s probably walking in nature.   

@nickmeynen   http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987988/uranium_from_russia_with_love.html

August 5, 2016 Posted by | environment, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, politics international, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Ugly Australians, like Paladin Energy, linked to 100s of deaths in uranium mining in Malawi and Namibia

There is a very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia,”

flag-AustraliaAustralian miners linked to hundreds of deaths, injuries in Africa, SMH,  July 11, 2015 -Will FitzgibbonAustralian mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries in Africa, which can go unreported at home. Some of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies include state governments as shareholders. One company recorded 38 worker deaths over an eleven-year period.

justiceIn Malawi, litigation continues against Paladin Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Perth-based Paladin Energy, and its subcontractor after an explosion disfigured one worker with such heat that his skin shattered when touched by rescuers. Two others died in the same incident.

Other allegations include employees in South Africa hacking a woman with a machete and Malian police killing two protesters after a mine worker reportedly asked authorities to dislodge a barricade on the road to the mine.

An investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with 13 African reporters, uncovered locally-filed lawsuits, violent protests and community petitions criticising some Australian companies.  Continue reading

July 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, health, Malawi, Namibia | 5 Comments

Australian uranium mining company Paladin accused of ribbing off impoverished Malawi

ripoffflag-AustraliaAustralian miner accused of dodging tax in world’s poorest country, The Age, July 11, 2015 – Political reporter  Tax avoidance tactics of multinational companies have angered Australians, but an Australian mining firm used such methods in Malawi. Tax avoidance tactics of multinational companies have angered the public and placed pressure on the Abbott government to prevent profits being exported offshore.

But an Australian uranium miner is defending the use of identical methods to reduce its tax bill in the world’s poorest country, Malawi.

Between 2009 and 2014, Paladin Energy moved $US183 million out of Malawi to a holding company in the Netherlands and then on to Australia.

A 15-page report by London-based ActionAid has found the Dutch transfers and a special royalties deal – in which Malawi’s mining minister agreed to drop the initial tax rate applied to the uranium mine from 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent – have cost the Malawi public $US43 million.

In Africa’s poorest nation, where per capita GDP is just $US226 a year and life expectancy 55, that money could provide the equivalent of 39,000 new teachers or 17,000 nurses, according to the aid group……..

Paladin’s tax-free transfers to the Netherlands were a combination of management fees and interest payments on loans initiated in Australia. The company loaded its African subsidiary up with huge debts, leaving the Kayelekera​ uranium mine in northern Malawi with an 80:20 debt to equity ratio – a financing structure known as “thin capitalisation”.

The Dutch structure allowed Paladin to avoid paying a 15 per cent withholding tax to the Malawi government due to a tax treaty between Malawi and the Netherlands which expired in 2014, saving the company $US7.3 million. Paladin closed the mine in February 2014, citing a “sustained low uranium price”.

ActionAid has accused the company of “treaty shopping” and shortchanging the Malawi people. The country’s nursing ranks have the equivalent of four nurses to every 100 in Australia, despite 10 per cent of Malawi’s population being infected with HIV/AIDS……..http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australian-miner-accused-of-dodging-tax-in-worlds-poorest-country-20150710-gi6uzv.html

July 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Malawi, politics international | Leave a comment

Anxiety in Malawi over Australian uranium miner Paladin’s pollution of Lake Malawi

“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, , 3 June 15 
uranium sludge to river Malawi

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 disputeslegal 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

June 4, 2015 Posted by | environment, Malawi | Leave a comment

Malawi warned by World Bank to not re-open Paladin Australia’s uranium mine

burial.uranium-industryMalawi 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.

May 13, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, Malawi | Leave a comment

Uranium effluent discharged into Malawi river by Australian company Paladin

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.

uranium sludge to river Malawi

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

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, Malawi, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Paladin, Australian uranium mining company accused of radioactively polluting Lake malawi

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

January 30, 2015 Posted by | environment, Malawi | Leave a comment

Radioactive pollution of Lake Malawi by Australian uranium company Paladin?

Malawi-LakeThe 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.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, Malawi | Leave a comment

Curtains for Autralian uranium miner Paladin’s mine in Malawi

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

May 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Malawi | Leave a comment

Unsustainable deal – Paladin’s uranium scam in Malawi

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.

secret-dealsMalawi 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

August 2, 2013 Posted by | Malawi, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

UN examines Australian uranium miner Paladin’s Malawi operations

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/

July 24, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malawi, politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

Paladin Energy “screwing” Malawians in uranium mining deal

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.

diagram-Paladin-network

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

July 24, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Malawi, politics international | 1 Comment

Australian uranium mining company Paladin in trouble in Namibia, as well as in Malawi

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.

diagram-Paladin-network

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

July 5, 2013 Posted by | employment, Malawi, Uranium | 2 Comments