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MALAWI'S URANIUM MINING PROJECT STARTS “NEW ERA”
Malawi's newest and biggest mining project - Paladin Africa's US$200-million Kayelekera Uranium Mine - was commissioned by President Bingu wa Mutharika in mid-April and is scheduled to be in full production by the year-end.
Paladin has been constructing the new mine in a remote and difficult area in the far north of the country, where every item of equipment has had to be trucked to site via one of Malawi's worst access roads.
“The mine will produce 3.3 million pounds a year of Uranium Oxide - U3O8 (also known as ‘yellowcake’) and the first shipment to overseas markets will take place around mid-year,” says Neville Huxham, Paladin's Lilongwe-based Country Manager.
"The yellowcake will be processed for use in electricity generators to assist in meeting global demand for electrical energy," says Huxham.
Located 50 km west of Karonga, Malawi's most northerly town, the Kayelekera Uranium Project is licensed by the Malawi Government to mine a deposit of some 11,000 tons.
The Kayelekera Uranium Mine has an estimated life of around 11 years at the projected mining rate. However, the company is continuing extensive exploration activities in areas adjacent to the project, with a view to extending the life of the mine.
KUM will employ a permanent workforce of 350 personnel, of whom around 300 will be Malawians. Currently, and for the past six months, the project has engaged around 2,000 workers during the construction phase.
Hailed by the President as “a beacon of a new era in the country’s economic development”, Malawi's project is only the second uranium mine to be developed in the world in the past 20 years after the Langer Heinrich Uranium Project in Namibia which came on stream in 2007. Both mines have been developed by Paladin Energy, an Australian-based energy company.