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Malawi’s Karonga community tussles with Lotus company over Kayerekera Uranium mine

Kayerekera mine

Paladin Kayerekera mine in Karonga

Failed Kayerekera mining

By Special Absalom

KARONGA-(MaraviPost)-Karonga chiefs, councilors and communities have threatened to block Lotus mining company, a new company that bought shares from Paladin Africa Limited to operate at Kayerekera Uranium mine site because of failure of the firm to sign Memorandum of Understanding with the residents.

The chiefs, including Paramount Chief Kyungu said apart from not signing MOU, the company has not consulted them hence the development.

According to them, they will not tolerate again the past arrogance and irresponsible actions done by Paladin Africa.

“No any investor will start operate at Kayerekera Uranium mine site without MOU and consultation with the chiefs and communities. This is my absolute stand and I shall defend it at any cost for and on behalf of my people,” said Kyungu.

Councilor for the area who has been the only fearless youth activist for district Steven Simsokwe said he will not let down his people.

According to Simsokwe who was speaking at a press conference, there are number of issues that the community wanted to be assured before the company start operate.

He then accused government of playing a hide seek in the whole process.

“Government has not tell us anything about the development. Even the company itself is yet to meet with us but it want to start operating. Not this time, they should expect be bloodshed. We are tired of being abused,” he said.

Simsokwe said the district has gained nothing from Paladin Africa apart from affected by the mine.

However, a renowned consultant Undule Mwakasungula has been advocating for peace, unity and development in the district concurred with community saying the company should prioritized the lives of the residents first.

According to Mwakasungula, the community should first know what they will benefit from the mine.

“No one is against the mining, what’s needed is consultation and then sign the MOU. Everyone should know the cooperate social responsibility the country will play. And as a consultant, I believe that the company will abide to that,” he said.

Government and Lotus Managing Director Simon Andrew who described the Kayerekera Uranium as a world class asset are yet to issue a comment on the matter.

In June last year, Paladin Africa struck an agreement with Lotus, a subsidiary of Hylea Metals to divest of 65% its interest in the project for 5 million Australian dollars, made up of 200, 000 Australian dollars cash and 4.8 million Australian dollars worth of Hylea shares.

According to the deal, Paladin will also receive a 3.5 percent royalty on the revenues derived from the future production at Kayerekera, capped at 5 million Australian dollars.

Kayerekera resources will acquire a further 20 percent interest in the project, with the Malawi government retaining its 15 percent interest.

The mine was closed in 2014 on the back of low Uranium prices, according to Paladin Africa.

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