Tuesday 17 December 2013

Workers injured in incident at Namibian uranium mine.

A number of workers are reported to have been treated for minor injuries following an incident at the Rio Tinto operated Rössing Uranium Mine in western Namibia on Tuesday 3 December 2013. The injuries apparently followed the failure of a leach tank containing acid sludge, though the sludge was contained by a series of trenches that diverted the sludge into a holding tank, and none is thought to have escaped into the environment. The precise nature and number of injuries is unclear, though none is thought to be serious.

The Rössing Uranium Mine. Wikimedia Commons.

Leach tanks and pools are used at mines to free metals by dissolving the ore in which they are contained. The tanks at the Rössing are understood to contain a mixture of crushed uranium ore and dilute acid used to produce uranium yellowcake for export. The spillage is not thought to represent a major radiation risk, but is being monitored by the mining company.

The Rössing Mine produces around 4% of the world's uranium. The Australian Green Party have recently begun to question the activities of Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto in Namibia, where safety and environmental regulations are much weaker than in Australia.

The approximate location of the Rössing Uranium Mine. Google Maps.

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