Tanzania to mine in game reserve
Uranium mining will take place in Selous Game Reserve - Africa’s second-largest wildlife sanctuary and a UNESCO heritage site
Tanzania will begin uranium mining in its southern Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s second-largest wildlife sanctuary and a UNESCO heritage site, the energy minister said Tuesday.
Australia’s Mantra Resources will start mining in late 2012 in the southern part of the 54,600-square kilometre park estimated to have 53.9 million pounds (24.4 million kilogrammes) of uranium oxide deposits.
“Exploration and other preparations are going on, but mining will start in mid-2012 or later next year after fulfilling several conditions of the UNESCO Heritage Committee,” Energy and Minerals Minister William Ngeleja told AFP.
Ngeleja said the conditions include conducting environmental and social impact assessments and securing authorisation from regulatory bodies.
He voiced optimism about getting clearance from the national environmental authorities and added that a UNESCO team would visit Tanzania for verification.
Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Ezekiel Maige told AFP that the UNESCO Heritage Committee that met in Paris recently gave Tanzania conditional approval to mine in the Selous.
The announcement follows Maige’s declaration last week that the country will proceed with plans to build a road through the Serengeti Park, another UN heritage site, although UNESCO said Tanzania had halted the project.
Environmentalists argue that the road project will endanger wildlife and disrupt the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebras from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara in neighbouring Kenya.
However, the tourism minister said sections through the park will not be tarmacked.
Tanzania also said earlier this year there was no reason to further delay a plan to build a soda ash plant at Lake Natron in the north of the country, the only nesting ground for flamingoes in east Africa.
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