The government said yesterday that licensing of uranium mining will be made only after a Mining Development Agreement is signed by respective parties later this year.
This was said by Prof Iddi Mkilaha the Atomic Energy Commission Director General in Dar es Salaam yesterday, during a one-day media workshop on uranium organised by the commission.
Prof Mkilaha revealed that signing of the MDA that would lead into issuing of uranium mining license was delayed by late presentation of mining procedures to the government.
He said: “There were pending agreements between investors and government on modalities that should be observed during the extracting of the resource… the MDA is expected to be signed in three months to come.”
He explained that currently there are firms conducting exploration which has proved that the country has the resource.
“I want to assure you that there is no extraction of the mineral…the only firms that exist, were just conducting exploration which has proved that the country has enough uranium for commercial exploitation,” he said.
Uranium mining projects in Tanzania have been strongly opposed by some legislators, activists and ordinary people saying the country is not fully prepared to venture into the activity.
Prof Mkilaha rejected claims that the country was not ready to extract the resource, saying that Tanzania is fully prepared in administering and monitoring the entire process to ensure safety of the general public and environment.
“We will not wait for problems to occur so we can punish our investors, but instead we’re going to set mechanisms to regulate radiations from occurring…we are ready and for sure nothing is going to harm us economically and socially,” he said.
He said the commission was prepared in terms of regulations for packaging, designing and transportation of all kind of radioactive material to make sure the public is protected.
Meanwhile Prof Mkilaha said the commission expects to host experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in April this year. “Definitely after their visit we will have their recommendations,” he added.
For his part Dennis Mwalongo, a nuclear physicist with the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission said that all precautions were put into consideration by the government.
Mwalongo said the uranium mining sector was effectively regulated due to perceived and actual risks predetermined for the entire uranium extraction.
“I can now tell you that Tanzania being active member of IAEA complies with uranium mining international standards,” he said.
He said any firm is not permitted to extract uranium if it fails to meet terms and conditions that include paying off mining assurances for remediation shortly after the mining closedown.
For his part Leonard Kifanga, Head of Nuclear Technology Department at the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission insisted however that when mining terms and regulations are fully observed by both mining firms and the government ‘administrator’ the resources is less harmful to the community.
The officer said a comprehensive monitoring mechanism establish in a teamwork at the commission is capable for strengthening up man-to-man protection of radiations and other related uranium effects.
The detectors set by the commission protect illegal extraction and exportation of uranium in the country.