The Impact of in situ leaching
There is a very real and substantial risk that in situ leach mining would cause irreparable, widespread pollution of the groundwater and endanger the health of people and animals.
View below video in Afrikaans, here.
The Stampriet Aquifer Basin
Covers a total of 6,5 million hectares in Namibia. According to a survey carried out by the NAU, there are approximately 1 300 farms or title deed areas in this basin area. A total of just over 555 000 ha covers the area of Aminuis and the remaining land includes village, church, commercial and land.
Note that the layers containing the underground water continue into Botswana and South Africa. The total hectares of land that fall under issued EPL's and applications for EPL's (Exclusive Prospecting Licenses) for nuclear fuels, 43 in total, cover 54.5% of this area.
Settlements and areas in Namibia dependent on the Stampriet Artesian Basin:
The prospecting company has drilled 602 boreholes according to an Ombudsman's Report.
The groundwater level in the aquifer is so high that the uranium cannot be extracted by conventional open pit or underground mining processes, but only by the in situ mining process.
In situ mining is a major concern as it involves drilling thousands of boreholes between 20-25m apart. A leach sollution of sulphuric acid (battery acid) plus oxygen is pumped via injection boreholes into the orebody and, after leaching has taken place, pumped out again via production boreholes. The uranium is removed in a surface plant. A little more acid and oxygen is added to the remaining water and is injected back underground.
It's an underground process, so there is no way of knowing for sure what will happen and what form and extent pollution may take. Well casings, pumps and pipelines can break, causing further leakage into the underground water.
Potential dangers of in situ leach mining of uranium:
The Stampriet aquifer containing the uranium orebody/ies hosts top quality drinking water.
The in situ uranium mining process relies on highly toxic heavy metals and acids.
The mine solution is highly radioactive.
There is a high risk of contamination.
Elsewhere in the world, reports indicate a high probability of leakage out of the mine area.
Radioactivity affects the lungs, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and other vital organs and can cause cancer.
Save the water!
SAUMA supports progress in the mining sector, but is strongly opposed to the exploration drilling and mining in the Stampriet Artesian Basin (SAB), due to a high risk of pollution of the drinking water.
We will protest against any and all planned mining and/or test mining in our precious LIFE-SUPPORTING underground artesian water source.
Our concerns address severe long-term environmental damage. Damage to our extremely sensitive ecosystem will threaten our livelihoods:
Settlements / Farming / Agriculture / Tourism Activities, Economical Activities ALL REQUIRE FRESH DRINKING WATER.