Malawi to decide on Paladin’s Kayerekera uranium project in February

Malawi to decide on Paladin’s Kayerekera uranium project in February

The Malawi government has said it will only decide on whether to allow Paladin Africa, a subsidiary of Australian as well as TSX and ASX listed Paladin Resources Inc (Ticker PDN) to start mining uranium in the country’s northern region district of Karonga before end February.

Director of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources Ralph Kabwazi said government will delay in coming up with the decision to allow a thorough analysis of the Environmental Impact Assessment report Paladin submitted to government in October 2006.

”The process of EIA is very slow because we don’t want to leave out any step,” Kabwazi told reporters in Malawi’s legislative capital, Lilongwe. ”We have carried out consultative meetings where experts have commented just to make sure we take the right decision.”

He said government was waiting for an independent review of the EIA report. Thereafter, a team of experts will look at the review and make recommendations to government. ”Sooner or later, and that is not beyond February, we will make a decision to approve the report or not. The approval will go with a license.”

However reading between the lines, one is left with the feeling that the government has already made its decision on Paladin’s Project ”“ and that is that the company should go ahead with its mining venture.

Speaking at the same function, Minister of Mines Henry Chimunthu Banda said uranium is very crucial for industrialization, peace and development, contrary to widely held views by people that the same is principally meant to make nuclear weapons.

He said Malawi would encourage investors to come and explore possibilities of uranium deposits in other places. He said the country stands to benefit more if it develops its uranium industry.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has accepted Malawi as a full member. Late last year an official from Paladin Africa Martin McAllen told
Mineweb that it was not illegal for Malawi to mine uranium albeit not being a member of IAEA but that his company has been encouraging Malawi to join the grouping.

Meanwhile Paladin Africa is yet to release its Bankable Feasibility Study which it said would be released in December, 2006. Kayerekera, which has met stiff resistance from members of the civil society organization, is a sandstone-hosted uranium deposit.

Uranium mining in this impoverished country where 60 percent of the people live below the UN threshold of US$1 a day, could generate five percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.


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