Take action: Speak out against uranium mining in the Karoo before 7 September

The issue of the proposed uranium mining in the Karoo presents an occasion where we should be guided by our faith traditions. As custodians of God’s gifts, we cannot choose profits over people and the environment, but should rather cherish Creation, and work together to preserve it.

We cannot allow uranium mining in the Karoo to happen because:

  • The effects can be catastrophic, harmful and extremely poisonous in the long term to humans, fauna, flora and all the microbes that make up our ecology.
  • Agriculture and uranium mining cannot co-exist in the Karoo landscape. The risks of contamination of agricultural products via dust, water and soil pose unacceptably high risks to the agricultural sector.
  • The health risks caused by exposure to contaminated dust and radioactive gasses associated with uranium mining are well documented.
  • Constitutionally South Africa belongs to all of its citizens. We all have the right to clean air and water; mining will jeopardise our constitutional rights.

 

SAFCEI works with affected communities in the Karoo and is monitoring uranium mining plans because the potential impact in the Karoo and its links to nuclear energy. Uranium mining is an important link in the chain that could have dire consequences not only for the Karoo where the mining is being proposed, but for many other parts of South Africa – and even Africa, for if uranium mining and nuclear go ahead here, other African nations might well follow suit.

Please join us in objecting to ALL uranium mining in the Karoo so we can increase awareness and pressure against the proposed mines which will destroy livelihoods and severely pollute and damage the natural environment and ground water.

To oppose the proposed uranium mining in Rystkuil (WC10085) and Quaggasfontein (WC10086MR) in the Western Cape, please fill in your details and then click ‘Send’ below before 7 September 2017.

Fill in your details below to make a submission

We, the interested and affected parties, hereby object to the proposed uranium mining in the Kareepoort block (EC10029MR) in the Eastern Cape. In addition, we would like it noted that we object to uranium mining in the Karoo in general as the issues raised here apply to any of the further proposed prospecting/mining blocks: Rystkuil (WC10085), Quaggasfontein (WC10086MR) and Rietkuil (WC10250PR) in the Western Cape.

We all request to be individually registered as Interested and Affected Parties with the email addresses as supplied.

Further we request that all correspondence is to be sent personally to each applicant separately in accordance with the act and the spirit of our country’s constitution.

We now object to uranium mining in the Karoo on the following grounds:

1. In the Carte Blanche television programme on 25 June 2017 Tim Van Stormbroek from Ferret mining had this to say: “the reality is that what you have described does not happen in a short period of time.” This is exactly our point. The effects of uranium mining can be catastrophic, harmful and extremely poisonous in the long term to humans, fauna, flora and all the microbes that make up our ecology. We absolutely have to take a long term view in this very brittle, special and sensitive environment.

2. Responsible land use is currently in place with sustainable agriculture, agri-tourism and hunting. These economic activities all provide long term employment and make a positive long term contribution to the country’s economy. Once animals start to die, borehole waters have rising levels of toxins, plants suffer and humans develop diseases related to uranium, its toxic daughter products including gases and molybdenum it would be way too late to ask why the models did not predict ‘other’ possible outcomes.

3. Ground water resources are the Alpha and the Omega of life in the Karoo. Uranium mining poses severe and unacceptably high risks to both ground and surface water in the form of over-extraction and contamination. The assumptions in the proposed models could well prove to be false; with the Karoo geology not necessarily conforming to the theoretical scope expected in the American based numerical models. This could result in an unexpected drop in water levels well beyond these model’s estimates. The reality is that farmers who have lived in the area have found that the drawdown effect of boreholes is over a much wider area than the model’s suggested mere 3Km. This could be verified by farmers within 20 km of the proposed mining site residing on similar geological formations. If boreholes dry up or are contaminated, agriculture will collapse. As such we object to the proposed uranium mining activities – our water resources are irreplaceable.

4. We contend that the land values in proximity of the mine, including the nearby towns would greatly decrease once the noise, dust and water pollution impacts are felt. This will impact on all municipalities having to do more road repairs and incur other costs as a consequence of mining operations. Buyers of property can be very fickle and react very strongly to perceived negative impacts on the environment such as mining activities in an area.

5. We contend that agriculture and uranium mining cannot co-exist in the Karoo landscape. The risks of contamination of agricultural products via dust, water and soil pose unacceptably high risks to the agricultural sector. The export of wool, Alpaca and Mohair fibre, meat and livestock originating in the Karoo are but some of the high value commodities. The contamination of which would have disastrous consequences should the export market be shut down as a result of uranium mining. The direct competition for water by the mines will also threaten agriculture due to over-extraction and contamination by the mines. Neither of these factors can be adequately mitigated. How do you mitigate depleted ground water and dry boreholes?

6. Mention has been made of 43 potential job opportunities for the Kareepoort block, 30 possible positions at Quaggafontein and 600 at the Ryst Kuil blocks, which as stated has an expected mining activity lifespans of 5 to 9 years. This is hardly a pay pack to the community in terms of sustainability. Farmers could continue to employ many families for many years to come. The same principle applies to other mining areas. No mention is made of the quality of work that may be provided and the associated health hazards that are well documented in the uranium mining industry worldwide.

7. The health risks caused by exposure to contaminated dust and radioactive gases associated with uranium mining are well documented. Despite assurances from the various consultants on behalf of Tasman, that contamination levels will be within allowed levels, we contend that any contamination level is too high. We have a clean and healthy environment in the Karoo; our right to it staying that way is enshrined in our constitution.

8. Uranium mining generates large amounts of radioactive waste material. Tasman proposes using tailings dams to store hazardous waste water. The risks of dams breaching, flooding, or drying up and the dust being spread by wind are great, and are well documented in the literature. We consider the risks associated with storing this waste, which remains hazardous for thousands of years to be too great for people (both current and future generations) and the environment. Uranium products and waste will require transport as well, adding further unacceptable risks should an accident occur during transport.

9. Rehabilitation of Karoo veld in fragile arid environments is a very long term and mostly prohibitively expensive undertaking. From hard experience farmers can testify to the fact that full rehabilitation is in many cases virtually impossible. The dramatic impact and total transformation uranium mining will have means that it is unlikely that the environment will ever recover. That is not a good trade off, given that the current land use is sustainable into perpetuity.

10. Roads would be exposed to a large number of mine, transport and contractor’s vehicles. This will put stress on the local community and regional access routes, and limited municipal budgets.

11. Constitutionally South Africa belongs to all of its citizens. We all have the right to clean air and water; mining will jeopardise our constitutional rights.

12. Blasting and the transport of mining materials and products by large machinery will generate large amounts of dust. Anyone living in the Karoo that has experienced an August day with strong seasonal Westerly winds blowing knows that suggested mitigation measures of putting tarpaulins on trucks and damping down roads will be hopelessly insufficient to curtail dust pollution being spread far and wide by the prevailing winds.

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