Tanzania is a promising area for uranium exploration and mining due to its beautiful geology. As one of the world's most precious minerals, this resource can make a significant contribution to Tanzania's economic growth.
With the strategic position of such wealth in the world, the global uranium market is becoming increasingly important.
Leaves Wambura, sustainability manager of Mantra Tanzania, takes seriously the importance of uranium and how it can contribute to the East African nation's economy.
What are the reasons why Tanzania is a key area for uranium exploration and development?
Tanzania is considered a land with high uranium stockpiles, which led to the establishment of various projects such as the Mkuju River, one of the world's largest undeveloped uranium resources. Additionally, the Tanzanian government has supported uranium exploration and development since Mantra Tanzania Limited entered the country in 2008, offering attractive mining and tax policies and a permit-acquisition process aimed at attracting more investors to the sector.
In addition, Tanzania has well-developed infrastructure, including several ports like Dar es Salaam Port, which are used for the export of uranium and to facilitate the delivery of raw materials to market.
On the other hand, Tanzania has a large and skilled workforce, with various universities and technical colleges offering training in various fields such as geology and mining.
What is the real picture of Tanzania in the uranium sector?
There are final stages of developing a factory for pilot processing that is expected to start operating by the end of this year or early next year. The plant is expected to process 5 tonnes, which is less than 1 percent of the main production.
Since the discovery of the world's largest uranium deposit in 1996, Mantra Tanzania Limited has been investing in the Mkuju River project, an area it could produce for more than 15 years. With this deposit, the company contributes about 20 percent of the current uranium output in Africa and approximately 4 percent of global production.
How has Mantra been engaging with the Indigenous community and how has it built partnerships with it?
The mantra plans to invest in sustainable projects that elevate the socio-economic status of the region.
There was cooperation with indigenous organizations in the provision of training and employment for locals in Namtumbo and Likuyu wards. The company aims to contribute to the economic growth of the region while empowering Indigenous communities.
In April, this year there was a meeting with villagers from three villages that operate in Rivernya, Likuyu Seka and Likuyu Mandela. The company wanted to know the areas where its investment would be most useful, for example the implementation of agreed elements in Likuyu County has already begun.
Through existing partnerships with local communities, security training in uranium mining projects is taking place. A variety of safety topics are given, including approaching, how to identify and avoid uranium hazards and things to consider in the event of an accident. The work of educating the community on uranium is underway in the community. This includes reporting on the health effects of uranium and company safety regulations.
How does the company prioritize the environmental sustainability aspect of its uranium projects?
Tanzania's project is not only focused on reducing the use of water and chemicals in processing but also treating and recycling and restoring any water used. In addition, a comprehensive environmental monitoring programme has been implemented and there is close work with local communities to make a positive impact on the environment.
Mantra Tanzania is committed to continuing to pursue an environmentally friendly approach to uranium mining. We are currently looking at the possibility of using in-situ mining (ISR) techniques and will continue to evaluate their effectiveness. Once we are satisfied with that approach, we plan to contact the Government to see if we can introduce technology into our mining operations.
What procedures do you have to consider when working on uranium projects?
Uranium mining is like other mining operations in terms of safety protocols, but it is important to note that it requires special measures to prevent harm. With appropriate safety standards, this activity can be carried out with minimal risk to workers and surrounding communities.
Throughout the projects there was constant investment in state-of-the-art equipment and technology that reduces the release of radioactive particles into the air and water.
The contents of an entire folder of safety protocols and procedures for mitigating the risks inherent in uranium mining were implemented. These are being done in line with international standards and are being fully implemented across all our projects with the aim of achieving zero impact on all workers in the uranium mine and the surrounding community.
What is the long-term vision for Mantra's strategy in its uranium projects in Africa?
It is a sustainable development and responsible industry that benefits the continent and the international community. This will require a focus on environmental protection, social responsibility and economic development.
Africa has significant uranium resources, which can be used to meet global demand for nuclear energy.
However, development of these resources must be done in a way that minimizes environmental and social impacts. This will require the application of best practices in mining and processing, as well as the introduction of robust regulatory frameworks.
In addition to environmental protection, social responsibility is also critical to the long-term success of uranium mining projects in Africa.
This includes ensuring that local communities are consulted and involved in the decision-making process and that they benefit from the economic benefits of mining.
On the other hand, economic development is also important in Africa. Such uranium projects can provide jobs, boost economic growth, and improve infrastructure.
However, it is important to ensure that mining benefits are delivered equitably, and that the presence of many of Mantra's projects does not overwhelm the local economy.
By prioritizing environmental protection, social responsibility, and economic development, Africa can benefit from the long-term vision of uranium mining projects. In particular, the Mantra project can help meet global demand for nuclear power, create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and improve infrastructure.