Convinced with Tanzania’s regulation with regard to international safety standards, the European Union (EU) has pledged to cooperate with the East African country in its plan to mine uranium.
After meeting the Ministry of Energy and Minerals top officials in Dar es Salaam on Friday, EU representatives said the envisioned cooperation would target the strengthening of the ownership of the uranium mining process by Tanzania, both in the short term and in the medium term.
An EU mission dealing with cooperation in nuclear safety, security and safeguards of uranium-mining was initiated after Tanzania’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, Sospeter Muhongo, visited the EU in Brussels from 12-13 April 2013.
Experts from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Development and Cooperation and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission responsible for the Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation, debriefed the Tanzanian officials on the results of their fact finding mission to the country.
They highlighted that the licensing process for uranium mining should be made according to the international standards published by the International Atomic Energy Agency as that would be key to guarantee the safe uranium mining operation.
According to a statement issued by the EU after the talks, the licensing process relied on the role of the regulatory authorities that shall guarantee an independent review of the safety and security provisions linked to each step of the process, from exploration to remediation, including the transport of uranium.
“The existing Tanzanian regulation copes with many aspects of international safety standards and it is felt that there is room for harmonisation and clear definition of roles and responsibilities of each concerned organisation,” the statement explained.
Key areas identified for further collaboration between EU and Tanzania could focus on need for supporting the additional permits for uranium mining operations, capacity building, training and tutoring, transport and support to the regulatory authority.
The EU intends to assist developing the existing capabilities such as the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission, and to promote at the same time a regional dimension of the cooperation and the engagement with local universities.
The EU Mission was also able to listen to the observations of a variety of NGOs expressing their concern about the uranium mining. The EU believes that transparency and communication are good practices in all phases of implementation.
EU Ambassador Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, who accompanied the mission, said: “As part of the growing partnership between the European Union and Tanzania on energy matters, this mission on nuclear safety and security is very welcome.
“We wish to help Tanzania to deal with uranium mining and more generally with nuclear issues, in full respect of the international standards and with guarantee of safety and security for both the concerned populations and the environment.
“The strong experience acquired by the European Commission in dealing with nuclear safety in central and eastern Europe will be of great help for our Tanzanian partners.”