Govt says uranium concentration at Barrick Lumwana mine no risk to human health (Video)


The laboratory sample analysis results of radiation at Barrick Lumwana Mine have shown that activity concentration of uranium was far below the 100 millisieverts per year as set by the International Atomic Energy standards, authorities say.

On November 27, 2023, the Radiation Protection Authority (RPA) was informed by Barrick Lumwana Mining Company of the elevated uranium levels in potable water.

This was from one of the water treatment plants which was supplying drinking water to one section of the mine employees, according to Technology and Science Minister, Felix Mutati.

Addressing a media briefing in Lusaka on Wednesday, Mutati, said the elevated levels of Uranium were detected during the routine water sampling and subsequent analysis by the Mines Environmental Department.

“The level detected was 0.037 milligrams per litre which has no risk as far as Radiation exposure to human health and environment is concerned,” he assured.

The minister added that following the incident, the Mining Company undertook immediate corrective actions.

Mutati said the use of potable water from the Water Treatement Plant was suspended and employees were provided with alternative water resources.

“The RPA technical team working together with National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) visited Lumwana Mine following the incident in order to collect samples for radiological risk determination,” he stated.

The minister indicated that the mandate of the technical team was to establish the radiological exposure risk of uranium in drinking water to the workers based on RPA regulations and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards.

Mutati said samples were collected from December, 5 to December, 8, 2023 from Chimiwungo area and other sites of interest to test for radioactivity concentration.

Read More: Uranium found in dinking water at Lumwana mine open section —Report

“In addition, awareness to sensitize Barrick Lumwana Mining Company employees about uranium and radiation was conducted,” he highlighted.

Mutati assured that the RPA would continue to undertake joint awareness exercise and routine environmental monitoring at the mine for the protection of workers, public, environment from any harmful effects that may arise from exposure to ionization.

He further announced that government plans to spend about K20 million on radiation infrastructure development such as laboratories in the country this year with support from IAEA in terms of equipment.

“This is to help the RPA execute its mandate effectively and employ more officers to carry out routine inspections,” the minister said.

RPA Director General, Bostee Siwila, disclosed that compliance levels had improved from 800 license holders of radiation services to more than 2000 as of this year.

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