Paladin awards major contracts for Malawi uranium mine construction
Making good its plans to roll out the Kayelekera Uranium mine in Malawi, Australian-based Paladin has put pen to paper on three major contracts for the development of the controversial project.Author: Frank Jomo
Posted: Wednesday , 15 Aug 2007
Paladin Resources Limited (TSX, ASX:PDN), announced today that it has awarded the engineering, procurement and construction-management (EPCM) contract to Johannesburg based mining and minerals engineering firm - Engineering and Projects Company (E&PC) - as the Project Engineers.
Paladin has also awarded the mining and earthworks contracts to a Portuguese based international earthmoving and construction consortium, Mota Engil Engineering Company, well known in Malawi for undertaking large construction projects. The company has been in the country for fifteen years and boasts of 55 years experience of construction in Africa.
Mota Engil has been involved with the Kayelekera project for some time now. It has been establishing the 11kilometer branch road to the project site and preparing all lay down areas for the anticipated equipment arrival.
In addition, Mota Engil has started preparing the site for the 800-person construction camp, currently being transported from Namibia's Langer Heinrich where Paladin has also uranium mining operations.
Paladin says it anticipates that the construction company will be ready to commence the civil earthworks for the project by the end of August. The company further says major mining equipment orders are also in place and that delivery is expected in late 2007, in readiness for mining pre-strip operations to commence.
One item of equipment expected for delivery late this year is the on-site 10MW power generation facility for electricity supply. The Kayelekera project seemed gridlocked with reports that the country's sole electricity supplier - Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) would not be constructing major power distribution infrastructure to the mining site due to financial constraints.
However Paladin assured its shareholders that it would still roll out the Kayelekera project in the fourth quarter of 2008 as planned because it would not rely on grid power, rather on on-site diesel power generation.
The company adds in its announcement today that following the award of these major contracts plus the finalization of Project Labour Agreement with the Malawian workforce Community Forums, the tempo for the project development is increasing rapidly.
"Worker recruitment programs have been initiated and there are already 200 employees active on site," reads part of the release. "This number is expected to peak at around 1, 000 during the construction period."
But despite these developments as chronicled by the company, the Kayelekera project remains a controversial one in the country. Civil Society organizations have taken Paladin to court for not doing enough to address the issue of radioactivity and how it would protect people around the mine from the same.
However the company has a massive support from the Malawi government which is keen to see the company roll out the project.