The australian 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. But who cleans up its mess in Africa?
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.
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.
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 describesas ‘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.
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.
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