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Argentinian proposal to reactivate uranium mining sparks protests

Published by MAC on 2001-05-23

Argentinian proposal to reactivate uranium mining sparks protests

English summary of Spanish articles (below): In the province of Mendoza, Argentina, a strong controversy has arisen over an immanent presidential decree, aimed at reactivating the old uranium mining complex, Sierra Pintada.

Since CNEA (the Nuclear Energy National Commission) announced in 2003 its intention to reactivate operations in Sierra Pintada, several social organizations have expressed their opposition: the Industrial Union, the Chamber of Commerce, the Rural Society of Apyme, the San Rafael Deliberative Council, and Oikos ONG, among others. All of them have urged restraint, until previous damages from mining have been rectified

The Sierra Pintada Complex occupies 2,000 hectares, yielded by Mendoza to the CNEA for uranium mining which commenced in 1979. In 1986 the mine was extended to an annual capacity of 60 to 120 tons of uranium. A decade later, in 1995, the mining operation was stopped. Throughout its period of operation, 1,600 tons of uranium were extracted, neessitatin the removal of 2,500,000 tons of overburden and ore; 182 people worked at the plant.

The CNEA plans to extract another 2,500 tons of uranium, over a period of about 20 years and by employing 200 people. Currently some 1,000 tons of solid waste is buried in 5,340 barrels, along with 1,700,000 tons of uranium tailings while 1,200,000 m3 of water is held in quarries and ponds used for evaporation.

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