Tanzania gets ready for uranium mining

22 June 2018

The Tanzanian government has worked actively to implement International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommendations to develop the legal and regulatory infrastructure ready for uranium mining to commence, the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission's (TAEC) Dennis Mwalongo said ahead of the IAEA's URAM-2018 symposium.

Environmental sampling at Mkuju River (Image: Firmi Banzi/TAEC)

In 2013, an IAEA Uranium Production Site Appraisal Team (UPSAT) mission to Tanzania made recommendations including the establishment of regulatory infrastructure, appropriate legislation for safe uranium mining and the harmonisation of regulations to protect people and the environment.

"Five years on, a lot of progress has taken place," Mwalongo, head of TAEC's Department of Ionising Radiation, said ahead of the IAEA's International Symposium on Uranium Raw Material for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Exploration, Mining, Production, Supply and Demand, Economics and Environmental Issues (URAM-2018), which opens on 25 June in Vienna. "The government has worked actively to implement the IAEA UPSAT recommendations, which include developing appropriate legal and regulatory measures that comply with international requirements."

The first construction phase of TAEC's laboratory complex, which will provide radioanalytical and calibration services to support regulatory oversight of uranium mining, has been completed. Key decisions to promote and implement uranium production have been based on the UPSAT mission's recommendations. TAEC has also developed legislation for exploration, construction, mining and milling, packaging and transportation of uranium and for the final decommissioning of uranium mine sites.

The Tanzanian government has clearly defined specific guidelines on managing radioactive waste and on the protection of workers, the public and the environment, Mwalongo said. Capacity building, competency-based training, international expertise and specific skill development have been provided by the IAEA, the European Commission, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the US United Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

A number of public awareness campaigns and workshops have been carried out by the government to increase awareness of the regulatory requirements of uranium mining, Mwalongo said.

"Uranium mining will contribute to successful and sustainable socioeconomic development for Tanzania. Another important goal is to develop the Dar es Salaam seaport for uranium transport and export," Mwalongo said.

Uranium One's Mkuju River is the most advanced uranium project in Tanzania, and in 2013 became the first uranium mine to receive a licence from Tanzania's ministry of energy and mineral resources. Uranium One last year announced that its subsidiary Mantra Tanzania had applied to suspend the project until economic conditions become more favourable.

Tanzania also has plans to introduce nuclear energy under its 2003 Atomic Energy Act.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News