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Schlettwein urges stringent safeguards to protect groundwater amid uranium mining concerns

Schlettwein urges stringent safeguards to protect groundwater amid uranium mining concerns

Addressing a high-level meeting focused on uranium mining impact, the Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, Hon Carl Schlettwein, underscored the critical importance of safeguarding groundwater resources within the Stampriet Transboundary Aquifer System.

During Monday’s meeting, Schlettwein emphasized the necessity of prohibiting activities that could potentially contaminate groundwater in areas classified as highly vulnerable. “Human activities that pose a risk of groundwater contamination should be prohibited in areas of very high to high groundwater vulnerability,” he said.

Namibia, a country with scarce and vulnerable water resources, faces significant threats from pollution and over-exploitation.

“Exploration drilling and mining operations in sensitive zones could jeopardize both the quantity and quality of groundwater if stringent safeguards are not in place,” Schlettwein cautioned.

Highlighting concerns over proposed uranium in situ leach mining in the Stampriet aquifer, which extends across borders into Botswana and South Africa, Schlettwein called for tighter regulations to protect this critical transboundary aquifer.

Serving around eighty thousand people and supporting agricultural and industrial activities in Namibia, the aquifer’s integrity is paramount.

Schlettwein expressed particular apprehension about exploration activities, noting that drilling into the subsurface for geology and mineralization assessments could intersect water-bearing structures essential for local water supply.

“If not conducted by prescribed conditions, these activities could harm the aquifer system,” he cautioned.

Concluding his remarks, Schlettwein reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring that mineral extraction from freshwater aquifers benefits rather than harms society.

“Our responsibility is to safeguard water resources for current and future generations,” he said.


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