A response to the Daily News Article “Mkuju uranium project on track, says Mantra”. The fact that MANTRA launched this article – referring to that February conference which is already OLD, outdated news – may be a direct consequence of our activities – MANTRA may feel they have to ‘affirm’ THEIR project.
Just for clarification:
* The pending Mineral Development Agreement has STILL NOT BEEN issued by the Tanzanian Government, as far as we heard from the Commissioner at the Ministry of Minerals and Energy who had called some of the organizers of the conference to the Ministery on 4. Oct. 2013.
* Also, according to the same Commissioner, the company seems still to refuse to inform the Tanzanian Government about to WHOM they will be selling ‘their’ yellowcake to – a fact which the Tanzanian Government does not want to accept; this issue seems NOT to be resolved yet.
* Moreover, there is a dispute between the Tanzanian Government and MANTRA re: transport of Yellwocake:
MANTRA wants to transport the yellowcake by LAND (truck) to Walvis Bay, Namibia and ship it from there (Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi is doing so, too).
Tanzanian Government wants to see the yellowcake shipped from Mtwara, a port close to the border to Mosambique which they want to upgrade also because of finding gas and oil in the area.
HOWEVER, of the 600km road from mine – Mtwara (which we drove in the last 2 days), at least 200km are dirt road and NOT suitable for heavy trucks, especially not in the rainy season.
They are working on upgrading that road – but even road maintainance has NOT be done for 1 – 2 years since the contract with the road construction company is suspended (NO work is being done!).
* * * *
We have visited the Songea area following the Uranium conference in Dar, and made an attempt to visit the mine site – which was at first granted by the company and then later refused, obviously, when either company or Government officials realized that the visitors were participants of the Uranium Conference.
The access road to the mine (as far as we could go) is a narrow, steep and winding dirt road for about 40 – 50km, and would have to be upgraded before production could begin; this includes tearing down a number of houses in one quarter of Namtumbo town and in the village of Likuyu the road will cut the village in two parts and pose a serious danger for villagers and especially for children.
Last but not least, the World Heritage Committee (WHC) decided that there will be, once again, a fact finding mission of the WHC to Tanzania which means the WHC is not convinced that the Tanzanian Government is complying with all the recommendations and conditions as they were put down in the 2012 St.Petersburg decision of the WHC which gave a green light to the boundary change and thus enabled the project to go ahead.
So, these are the harsh realities “on the ground”.
From our point of view, the project is far from being “on track”.
Also note that the start of production of yellwocake had been announced first for 2012, then 2013, NOW at the NEMC presentation at the Uranium Conference, it was announced for 2016.
PLEASE feel free to spread that info as you feel appropriate.