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Malawi’s world-class uranium mine on stream

 The Big Issue Malawi 11 June 2019

(Originally published: 07/2009) Malawi’s major mining project—Paladin Africa’s US$200 million Kayelekera Uranium Mine – is now operational and expected to be in full production before the end of 2009. Construction on the Kayelekera Uranium Mine (KUM) began in early 2008 and the mine in the country’s far north was officially opened by the President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika in April this year. Around 300 Malawians are expected to be employed in KUM’s permanent labour force of about 350 personnel which will provide a boost for the local economy. (474 words) - By Omega Chanje

Malawi's major mining project-Paladin Africa's US$200 million Kayelekera Uranium Mine - is now operational and expected to be in full production before the end of 2009.

Construction on the Kayelekera Uranium Mine (KUM) began in early 2008 and the mine in the country's far north was officially opened by the President Dr Bingu wa Mutharika in April this year.

The world-class uranium mine has been developed by Paladin Energy, an Australian based energy company that has been responsible for developing the only two uranium mines brought into production in the past 20 years. Both of Paladin's mines are in Africa-the other mine is the Langer Heinrich Uranium Project in Namibia which came on stream in 2007.

Paladin faced significant challenges in constructing the new mine-50km west of Karonga on the 110km road to Chitipa, often described as one of Malawi's "most difficult" main roads.

Everything needed for the construction phase from nuts and bolts to 40-ton steel mills had to be transported to the mine's site along the Karonga -Chitipa road.

During the last quarter of 2008, the Chinese Government undertook to rebuild the road in a major US$70 million development agreement with the Malawi Government.

The first section of reconstructed road was due for completion in May, with the entire project scheduled to be finalised during 2010. One of the significant milestones during the project's construction phase which employed more than 2000 workers was the achievement of 1.5 million man-hours worked without lost time due to injury.

On any construction project anywhere in the world, this is recognised as a highly commendable achievement, and is made more impressive since it was achieved by the relatively inexperienced Malawian labour force.

Around 300 Malawians are expected to be employed in KUM's permanent labour force of about 350 personnel.

"The Kayelekera Uranium Mine is scheduled to reach full production during the second half of 2009, and output will total some 3.3 million pounds a year of Uranium Oxide - U3O8.

"By mid-year the KUM's production of U308-also known as 'yellow-cake' -is due to start being exported," says Neville Huxham, Paladin's Lilongwe-based Country Manager. The U308 will be shipped to North America and Europe to be processed for use in the generation of electrical energy to assist in meeting growing global demand for nuclear electrical power.

Kayelekera Uranium Mine is developing a deposit of some 11 000 tons of uranium ore, situated near the village of Kayelekera midway along the main Karonga-Chitipa road and from which the mine takes its name.

At the current projected rate of mining, KUM has an estimated life of around 11 years-although the company is continuing extensive exploration activities in the area aimed at extending the project's life.

The opening of the Kayelekera uranium mine is good for Malawi's industry-a delight especially where our economy is concerned.

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