Paladin Energy Limited, a dual-listed mining company, has described as a “minor incident” the spilling of uranium oxide concentrate (UOC) about eight kilometres from its Kayelekera Mine (KM) in Karonga, as a truck carrying the substance fell on its side while negotiating a curve in the road.
This is the first incident involving a UOC container to occur in 92 products shipments transported from KM to the port of Walvis Bay in Namibia, according to the company’s managing director and chief executive officer John Borshoff.
In a statement published on Monday, he said the truck carrying a single container was in a convoy of five trucks with an accompanying support vehicle during the routine transportation of UOC for export.
Paladin has another uranium mine called Langer Heinrich Mine (LHM) in Namibia.
Said Borshoff: “The driver was not harmed. However, his co-driver suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene by the KM medical response team.”
He said a spill response team (SRT) from KM recovered a small quantity of UOC from the scene and also removed soil which had come into contact.
Borshoff said the accident site and surrounding area was subsequently subjected to a radiological check to ensure that it was thoroughly cleaned.
An environmental team from the country’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (AERA) visited the scene and informed the company that AERA was satisfied with the company’s handling of the incident, he said.
Two weeks ago, Paladin announced a halt in production at the mine and that it would not resume until the uranium price hits $75 a pound.
Minister of Mining John Bande has since regretted the decision by Paladin, saying the move will render many Malawians jobless.