DEAR FRIENDS ON 1rst and 2cond OF OCTOBER 2013 CESOPE WITH OTHER PERTINERS WE MANAGE TO HOST A
Bahi Uranium mining impact
on health and environment conference 2013, was conducted by collaboration of 5
national and international non government organizations which are (IPPNW)
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and uranium-network),
LHRC (Legal and Human Rights Centre), Uranium Network, ROSSA LUXEMBURG
STIFTUNG, NaCUM (National coalition on Uranium Mining) and CESOPE.
we are opening a comments and contribution for those take part and all those did take part to give commets. your welcome
By Anthony Lyamunda the moderetor
Dear Participants of the Tanzania Uranium Conference,
greetings to everyone of you, and we hope you all returned safely to your homes, and those still roaming Tanzania will return safely, too.
THANK YOU to everyone to bear with us through the “highs and lows” of the week – the late arrivals of some, the Bahi-Manyoni field trip, the experience with the local police in Bahi, the flights and bus rides, the two days conference and the AUA meeting.
We certainly ‘raised some dust’ and got the attention of government officials in different ways.
A small group of five persons went to Songea, Southern Tanzania, after the conference; this is the area of the Mkuju River Uranium Project – the u mine project which has progressed furthest in Tanzania.
You wil find a report of our trip and some conclusions furhter down (Nr. (4) and (5))
Besides, we would like to share a few additional infos with you:
(1) German Embassy
Following the incidents with the local police in Bahi, the German participants arranged a meeting with the German ‘Acting Ambassador’ on Friday noon time.
(Currently, there is no German Ambassador in Tanzania since the person proposed by Germany has been rejected by the Tanzanian Gvt. – something which occurs only very very rarely – 1st time 20yrs or so ago.)
Thus, there is a ‘Acting Ambassador’, Mr Koeppel.
We had a friendly conversation about the Bahi incidents as well as about the issue of u mining in general, and there was genuine interest of the Acting Ambassador in this matter (who has worked within the German Gvt on abolition issues earlier).
Factual information which we can provide on these matters is very welcome, and if you can contribute, please let us know.
(2) Ministry of Minerals and Energy
We as organizers of the conference were called to the Tanzanian Ministery of Minerals and Energy – the “call” was in between an invitation and a citation.
On Friday afternoon, a representative of each of the co-organizing NGOs went: i.e. Helen Kijo-Bisimbo, Secretary of LHRC, Andreas Nidecker, IPPNW Switzerland, Bob Mtonga, IPPNW International, Siegfried Schroeder, Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation and myself for uranium-network.org, as well as Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation.
The Ministery had been invited repeatedly to the conference, but had obviously chosen to ignore the invitation; in our conversation with the Commissioner, it seemed to be a “misunderstanding” and the Ministery claimed they had not been invited “in time” to particiapte in the Bahi / Manyoni field trip.
The Commissioner’s representative whom we met made lengthy statements, the long and short of it was that the Ministery wanted us to ‘consult’ with them before going “to the field” in Bahi or Manyoni and to agree with the Ministery on what was being said there.
Bob Mtonga later summarized it, saying ” …they want us to sing from their songsheet”.
Of course, we could not comment on this and Mr. Schroeder clearly explained ” … if it’s lung cancer, we call it lung cancer – and if it is leukemia, we call it leukemia”.
The Commissioner gave some information about the proceedings around the Mkuju River Uranium Project – which I already mentioned in an earlier e-mail.
In addition, the Commissioner continued to promote the view propagated by the Ministery that uranium which has not been processed would not be harmful – a view which has been consistently propagated by the Ministery.
We were more than astonished to hear that again.
Prof. Doug Brugge’s comment later on this was: “It is a myth that uranium is harmless which has been around for 50 or 60 years – it was wrong then – and it is STILL WRONG.”
(3) Swiss Embassy
Hannes Lammler, being a citizen of Switzerland, made a visit to the Swiss Embassy, together with Anthony Lyamunda, to explain the situation and the Bahi incidents to the Swiss Embassy.
(4) Trip to Songea and (attempt to) Visit Mkuju River Uranium Project
A small group went to visit Songea / Nambtumbo area, starting very early Monday, 7. Oct.
The group comprised
Dave Sweeney from Australia, since the company MANTRA operating Mkuju River Uranium Project originates from Australia, they also initially found the deposit
Dirk Seifert of Robin Wooed, Germany, Hannes Lammler of Forum Civique Europeen, Switzerland and France, and Gunter Hermeyer, BI Lüchow-Dannenberg (opposed to the final nuclear waste repository in Gorleben, Germany), and myself.
We – my colleague Martin Kurz of uranium-network.org and myself – had made first personal contact with local people / NGOs in Songea area in Dec. 2012 during Tanzania Uranium Awareness Mission (TUAM 2012): Caritas Songea, Tanzania Mineral Mining Trust Fund (TMMTF) and Mviwata (a farmers’ organisation) had organized a 1-day meeting in 4. Dec. 2012 in which we spoke out about the risks and dangers of uranium mining – the first independent information on uranium for people in the area.
The above-mentioned NGOs continued working on the issue and are currently launching a Uranium Awawreness Raising Project.
TMMTF / Mr. Mahundi had arranged for a visit of Mkuju River Uranium Project with the copmany, MANTRA, for Tuesday 8. Oct, the company had agreed; Mr. Bernhard Mihayo, second in charge of the project, was to guide us.
* * * *
We arrived in Songea after a 900km / 12h drive late on Monday evening, and departed as early as 6.00h next morning to meet Mr. Mihayo, MANTRA Resources, in Songea; after brief greetings, we advanced to Namtumbo, from there continued on a narrow and steep dirt road through a quarter of Namtumbo village, then Likuyu village to a station of the rangers of Selous Game Reserve (SGR).
The SGR administration then found that we did not have license to pass / to enter SGR; according to them, this would be necessary for foreigners – Tanzanians could have continued without problems.
Any attempts to solve the probleme via superiors – the Officer for the SGR Southern Zone – were futile, the superior could not be reached by phone.
Mr. Mahundi had not been informed about the need to have a special permit for foreigners – although the company has had foreign visitors before and we are sure that the company is familiar with the proper proceedings.
The SGR administration then said they would try to solve the issue during the day and get a permission / clearance for the next day; Mr Mihayo, in the presence of the international delegates – committed to be ready to conduct the visit to the mine area the next day.
Later on, Mr. Mihayo also deliberately took portrait pictures of Dave Sweeney, Hannes Lammler and myself with his smartphone; we assume that they were sent to the MANTRA headquarters (Dar es Salaam), and the link was made to us being organizers or participants of the uranium conference, and we assume that it was then decided to hinder us from accessing the mine area.
We travelled back to Songea, Mr. Mihayo had promised to notify us about further proceedings later in the day.
Although we tried repeatedly to contact Mr. Mihayo as well as the responsible SGR administration officer later in the day, we were not given any information until around 19h when Mr. Mihayo notified us by phone that he would NOT be available for a visit of the mine area next day due to an meeting in Namtumbo, thus breaking the commitment he had made earlier.
We do not know for sure whether these events were a set-up between company and authorities to prevent a visit to the mine, or a matter of miscommunication, or an interference of Government authorities to prevent the visit whereas the company would have accepted the visit.
To us, it seemed that Mr. Mihayo’s interest to conduct the visit to the mine was genuine in the beginning, and things changed later when it was realized that some of the international visitors were conected to the Dar uranium conference.
The distinction made between Tanzanian visitors – who could have continued WITHOUT a permit – whereas international guests would need permits, is quite unaccepatable and arbitrary.
We have to state that it seems as if MANTRA Resources and the Government, alone or in collusion, are hiding something from the public, especially from international visitors: this could be the state of the project which may have proceeded further as permitted, this may be detrimental environmental impacts which should be hidden from spectators, this could also be a LACK of progress of the project – all this remains a mystery and is not acceptable.
Obviously as a reaction to activities critical of uranium mining, an article was launched in Tanzanian Media emphasizing that the Mkuju River Uranium Project was “on track”, making reference to a Indaba conference which had already been held in February 2013.
(5) Return to Dar es Salaam
Our group then decided to return to Dar es Salaam via Namtumbo, Tunduru, Masasi, and Lindi, thus passing through the Selous-Niassa-Wildlife Corridor.
(a) The Selous-Niassa-Wildlife Corridor connects Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania, with the Niassa Game Reserve in Mozambique.
The project is funded by Germany, funds (currently 5 Mio €) are channeled through KfW – Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau / German Development Bank.
(b) The World Heritage Committee (WHC) in its 2012 St. Petersburg decision on the “minor boundary change” of Selous Game Reserve – which was the precondition for the Mkuju River Uranium mine activities – put down a number of recommendations / conditions, some refering to the Selous-Niassa-Wildlife Corridor:
The WHC …
8. Also reiterates its encouragement that the State Party provide appropriate protection to the Selous-Niassa Corridor which is becoming progressively fragmented, and considers that its permanent protection as a buffer zone or its inclusion within the property is vital to the long-term integrity of the latter; …”
(from: Word Heritage Committee Decisions, http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/36COM,
see: WHC.12 /36.COM /19. page 54 – 55)
In stark contrast to the enhancement of protection of the Selous-Niassa- Corridor,
the Government of Tanzania, Ministry of Energy and Minerals, has granted exploration and prospecting licences for a wide variety of resources IN the Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor, to a number of companies, among them URANEX and Mantra Resources.
Australian company URANEX is advertising in ther ‘roadshow’: “Developping an emerging energy district in Africa … ”
This “emerging energy district” is situated right in the area of the Selous-Niassa-Wildlife Corridor.
* * * *
On our journey back to Dar es Salaam, we had the chance to see the Selous-Niassa-Wildlife Corridor: vast, comparatively arid areas with forests and bushland, very few settlements. some mountain ridges and rivers and creeks, and one road from Namtumbo to Tunduru, most of it dirt road, not maintained since approximately two years, however, construction of a major road had partially commenced, but now stopped.
Most definitely, the Government of Tanzania / Ministry of Energy and Mineral’s practice to grant prospecting and exploration licenses to companies and the intentions of companies to “develop an energy district” are by no means compatible with the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee to further protect the Wildlife Corridor.
We returned to Dar es Salaam after a 2-day / 1.000km drive, on Thursday night, 1. October.
(The whole trip was funded privately by ourselves, funding was not part of the confrence budget.)
(6) Documentation of the Conference
Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation will work – in cooperation with the other organizers – on a PRINT documentation of the conference, details later on.
There will also be a video documentation of the conference, however, it may take some time to get this done.
(7) Further activities
We appreciate if you stay in touch and ‘tuned’ for further actions and activities around U mining in Tanzania (and in Africa in general). We will address you with details and plans for further activities a little later.
In case there are any questions, do not hesitate to contact us,