The future of the uranium mining industry will be largely dependent on the price of the commodity and the profitability of uranium mines, while demand for uranium in nuclear power stations and potentially for nuclear weapons remains the main driver for the commodity.
This is according to North-West University Mine Water Research Group head and geography and environmental studies chair Professor Frank Winde, who spoke at the Nuclearisation of Africa symposium in Kempton Park, on the East Rand, in November.
He stressed that the mining of uranium must be analysed in a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, which had to include all externalised costs, such as its impact on the environment and the health of local communities.
“Consultation must be undertaken widely and not only with the mining industry and scientists, but also with communities that will be affected by uranium mining. There also has to be complete transparency about the details of the development and operation of uranium mining operations with all stakeholders,” Winde contended.
When the issue of uranium mining was being discussed, all parties needed to avoid lobbyism, taking stances based on ideology and raw emotions to ensure that sober, rational conclusions can be reached.
“Parties must present track records and scientific facts, instead of relying on models, predictions and promises to support their arguments. Most importantly, everyone should not discount long-term costs for short-term benefits,” Winde reasoned.
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