Several African countries are looking to enter the ranks of uranium producing countries. Tanzania and Malawi are probably furthest along this road, with Niger, South Africa, Central African Republic and the DR Congo all among current or past producers.
For those who want a quick introduction into Tanzanian plans to develop its uranium deposits, this article by Deutsche Welle provides some of the most important facts:
Not far from Tanzania’s capital of Dodoma is the rural area of Bahi. The small village in the heart of the country on Africa’s coast, though, is sitting on a proverbial “gold mine,” one that has raised eyebrows at both the national and international levels: uranium. Tanzania has been carrying out exploratory drilling operations for a number of years so that it might soon begin the real business of uranium mining. People who live in Bahia, however, have reacted to the drilling with skepticism. […]
Koczy recalled the risks of nuclear energy, pointing to the nuclear reactor catastrophes in Chernobyl and Fukushima. But she also said there were potential safety risks in Tanzania, which are high during the mining of radioactive ore. Uranium’s utility for Tanzania itself is very limited, Koczy said. The German parliamentarian criticized the fact that the large majority of mining licenses have gone to foreign firms, with the public having no oversight as to the profits secured by these companies.
Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals Sospeter Muhongo views the future brightly, though. For workers, safety risks will not be an issue, he said. […]
In southern Tanzania, the uranium is thick and close to the earth’s surface. That brings yet another danger: A gust of wind can blow uranium dust from surface mining operations and into the surrounding landscape.
For CESOPE director Lyamunda and his organization further north in Bahi, the issue is clear: The best thing would be for Tanzania to desist entirely from mining uranium. His group is not alone in that opinion. At a conference in Tanzania that took place in early October, his call was supported by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and the Germany-based Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
The Tanzanian project is also one of the focal points of the documentary “Atomic Africa“, which is worth seeing in full if you are interested in the topic. What do you think, should Tanzania and other African countries develop their uranium deposits and nuclear energy plants despite the great environmental and health risks involved?