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Rio Tinto's Rössing Uranium Mine, Namibia

This is an uranium mine belonging to Rio Tinto (about 70%) and to the government of Iran (15%). It is near the new town of Arandis. Since the apartheid era there are allegations of health damage to workers at Rössing.


This is a controversial uranium mine belonging to Rio Tinto (about 70%) and to the government of Iran (15%). It is near the new town of Arandis.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Rio Tinto's Rössing Uranium Mine, Namibia
State or province:Erongo Province
Location of conflict:in the Namib Desert about 60 km east of the coastal town of Swakopmund
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Rössing is a low-grade ore body of huge extent. Producing 1,000 tonnes of uranium oxide requires processing of 3 million tonnes of ore, and in 2005 19.5 million tonnes of rock were mined and transported from the open pit to the processing plant. Of those, 12 million tonnes were uranium ore, which in turn required 226,276 tonnes of acid for processing into yellowcake, a powdered uranium concentrate which is the basis for nuclear reactor fuel.

Level of Investment for the conflictive project120000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2000
Company names or state enterprises:Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from United Kingdom
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Earthlife
Partizans (UK)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The health damage to uranium miners has not been compensated for by Rio Tinto, it has not even been acknowledged.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

The global uranium rush and its Africa frontier. Effects, reactions and social movements in Namibia

by Marta Conde, Giorgos Kallis, in Global Environmental Change, 22(3), 2012
[click to view]

[click to view]

John Vidal in The Guardian, April 2014
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1214
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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