Perth-based uranium company Paladin Energy operated uranium mines in Malawi and Namibia. As of June 2018, both mines are in care-and-maintenance.
New report – June 2018: Morgan Somerville and Jim Green, ‘Undermining Africa: Paladin Energy’s Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Malawi’
Undermining Africa: New report calls on Australian mining company to clean up its mess in Malawi
Media Release: 19 June 2018
A new report warns that Perth-based Paladin Energy has made insufficient provision for the rehabilitation of its mothballed Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi. The mine was put into care-and-maintenance in mid-2014 and there is little chance of a restart given the high cost of production and the small uranium resource.
Paladin ‒ once the darling of the stock-market ‒ was put into administration in July 2017. It relisted on the Australian Securities Exchange in February 2018 but just three months later the company’s only other mine ‒ the Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia ‒ was also put into care-and-maintenance. Thus the company has no operating mines.
Paladin has lodged a US$10 million ‘Environmental Performance Bond’ with Malawian banks, and that money can be accessed to rehabilitate Kayelekera. But the cost of rehabilitating the mine-site will be multiples of that figure.
Paladin’s 2017 Annual Report lists a ‘rehabilitation provision’ of $86.93 million to cover both Kayelekera and Langer Heinrich. However the funds might not be available for rehabilitation if Paladin goes bankrupt, and even if the funds are available they are unlikely to be sufficient. In Australia, Energy Resources of Australia’s expects to pay almost 10 times as much to rehabilitate the Ranger uranium mine.
Dr Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, said: “It stretches credulity to believe that the cost of rehabilitating both of Paladin Energy’s mines in Africa would be an order of magnitude lower than the cost of rehabilitating one single mine in Australia.”
“The Australian and Western Australian governments and Paladin Energy should liaise with the Malawian government and Malawian civil society to ensure that a proper rehabilitation of Kayelekera is undertaken.
“One option that should be considered is to move quickly to rehabilitation as an alternative to Paladin Energy’s current strategy of spending over A$13 million annually to keep Kayelekera in care-and-maintenance. The prospects for a restart of the mine are bleak and available funds would be better spent on rehabilitation.”