The South African Karoo region has been known to contain significant uranium deposits. Foreign companies, hailing from Russia to Australia, have sought out and mined here up until recently when South Africans rightfully pushed back.
Australian Company, Peninsula Energy, did schedule development of mining activity across farmland, possibly wiping out local communities and releasing harmful levels of radiation. Thankfully, however, the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) alerted the public of the project and created a snowball effect in support from NGOs, government politicians, and the farmers themselves.
The Australian Department of the Environment and Energy states,
“Radiological (i.e. radiation) exposure is a particular issue with uranium mining, in contrast to other types of mining. Such exposure may occur in the following ways:
- inhalation of the progeny of the radioactive gas radon;
- inhalation of radioactive dust particles;
- direct irradiation from outside the body, primarily by gamma rays or in some cases beta radiation;
- ingestion of radionuclides (e.g. uranium or radium) in food or water.”
More environmental remediation is needed; however, it is great to see yet another potentially harmful mining activity avoided. Conservationists work in a discipline that considers ethics in land management: to consider the impacts on human communities and not exclusively just biodiversity. Protecting rural communities from the harmful impacts of a foreign company means that local South Africans can farm safely, and celebrate a well-earned victory.
Were the local Karoo communities successful in resisting yet another foreign mining operation?