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Mkuju River uranium mine, Tanzania

Tanzanian government welcomed uranium mining as a solution to poverty and economic development, but the capacities to handle side effects like pollution or health risks in terms of laws and regulations are low.


Uranium and radioactive mineralization in Tanzania was identified in the pre-independence era, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the commercial interest to explore became evident and the investors started arriving for discussions with the government authorities (6).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mkuju River uranium mine, Tanzania
State or province:Ruvuma region
Location of conflict:Namtumbo District
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

According to MRTL, they predict extracting up to 3.7 million pounds of uranium per year by mining 4.5 million tons of ore for 12 years (1).

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Project area:3,250 (2)
Level of Investment:510,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:201,640 (2)
Start of the conflict:01/01/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Mantra Tanzania Ltd (MTRL) from Australia - The project is owned by Mantra Tanzania Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mantra Resources Pty Ltd. (formerly Mantra Resources Ltd.), an Australian registered corporation in which Uranium One has a minority interest
Uranium One Inc. from Canada
Atomredmetzoloto Uranium Holding Co. (ARMZ) from Russian Federation
Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) from Russian Federation
Magnis Resources Ltd (ex Uranex Ltd) from Australia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:WISE WORLD INFORMATION SERVICE ON ENERGY
Civil Education is the Solution to Poverty and Environmental Management (CESOPE)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts, Air pollution, Genetic contamination, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Other Environmental impactsThe mine will produce 60 million tons of radioactive and poisonous waste during its 10-year lifespan (3)
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:A report published by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung recommends the Tanzanian government should develop an adequate regulatory framework and policy with regard to uranium mining and strengthen its capacity to enforce such regulations; ensure that legal procedures and international standards are adhered to and that civil and human rights are respected; make sure that levels and limits of radiation are determined by independent scientists before the companies start mining uranium in the area.
Indispensable dialogue and consent between all the interested and affected parties and awareness
campaign should be organized.
Highly valuable areas like natural reserves and areas of special importance for food security must be excluded from uranium mining.
• Perspectives:
The Selous Game Reserve area could be further developed into a tourist attraction spot.
• Measures for storage of radioactive waste are required;
• Uranium should be included in the (draft) guideline of the European Union on Responsible sourcing of
minerals originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (guideline towards an integrated EU
• Involved stakeholders, multinational companies and nuclear energy consuming countries should
recognize and take their responsibility and fulfill criteria of corporate accountability;
• The whole fuel chain of nuclear power should be more transparent and more monitored.
• Nuclear energy (with all its negative consequences as e.g. uranium mining) should be abandoned. (2)
A proper cooperation among different authorities is required, and a system of inspections and monitoring of uranium exploration and/or mining sites must be available. Education programmes dealing with uranium exploration and mining aimed at the general public should be developed and presented jointly by the industry, government and non-government organizations. A high degree of cooperation between all stakeholders will be required for any education programme to succeed. Mining should be conducted in such a manner that the environment is not damaged to the extent that large areas of land are permanently removed from future beneficial use. Therefore it is very important to conduct an assessment of the environment to assess the potential impacts of a mining operation (Environmental Impact Assessment) and the development process has to be undertaken to keep environmental degradation as low as reasonably achievable (6)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

In 2009, the Government of Tanzania produced the Mineral Policy of Tanzania. The policy statements that are also relevant to the mining of uranium are:

1) Recognizing the fact that the establishment of medium and large scale mining will cause relocation of individuals and disruption of their livelihoods, the government decided to determine effective relocation, compensation and resettlement schemes;

2) Recognizing that mining activities can contribute significantly in the development of local communities, the government’s policy is to strengthen the relationship between mining companies and surrounding communities and the public in general;

3) In order to increase public awareness on mining activities, the government will provide them with accurate and timely information about all matters of concern regarding the mineral sector;

4) Since mining activities cause adverse effects to safety and occupational health of mine workers, environmental land degradation, pollution and social disruption of local communities around the mining sites, the government will strengthen management, occupational health and environment safety. A number of Acts of Parliament and their regulations have been enacted to reflect the above-summarized Tanzanian Mineral Policy. These acts are:

1) The 2010 Mining Act with its 2010 Mining (Radioactive Minerals) Regulations (URT 2010);

2) The 2003 Atomic Energy Act with the 2011 Atomic Energy (Radiation Safety in the Mining and Processing of

Radioactive Ores) Regulations (URT 2011);

3) The 2004 Environmental Management Act with its Environmental (Registration of Environmental Experts)

2005 Regulations and the 2005 Environmental Impact Assessment and Audit Regulations (URT 2004);

4) The 2003 Occupational Health and Safety Act with its Mining (Safe Working and Occupation Health) 2010 Regulations (URT 2003; URT 2010).

5) Other Acts that have some relevance to uranium mining in the country include the Land Act (1999) and the Village Land Act (1999). (2) (6)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(6)Uranium Mining. Impact on Health & Environment, Published by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Dar es Salaam April 2014
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Tanzania Minerals Audit Agency
[click to view]

[click to view]

(3)Mantra to start uranium mining, pubblished on East African Businnes week on 08/16/2015, accesed on 02/06/2017
[click to view]

Russia May Start Industrial-Scale Uranium Mining in Tanzania in 2018, pubblished on Sputniknews on 04/28/2016 accesed on 02/06/2017
[click to view]

(2)WISE, RADIATING AFRICA, The Menace of Uranium Mining. Case Studies on Cameroon, Mali and Tanzania, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, November 2014, accesed on 02/02/2017
[click to view]

(5)Alvar Mwakyusa, Tanzania: Mkuju Uranium Mining Plan Remains Intact, pubblished on Tanzania Daily News on 01/08/2017, accesed on 02/06/2017
[click to view]

(4)Tanzania to Extract Uranium in Africa's Largest Conservancy, pubblished on the East African on 01/18/2017, accessed on 02/06/2017
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

(7) Russian state corporation suspends $1.2 billion uranium project in Tanzania. Vladimir Basov | Jul. 7, 2017
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Carla Petricca
Last update18/08/2019
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