Farmers alarmed by water permit for Forsys Metal's Valencia Uraniun, The Namibian says
(The Namibian)-FARM OWNERS in the Valencia area in Namibia's central northwest are up in arms over Government granting Forsys Metal's Valencia Uranium project a permit to extract 1 000 cubic metres of water a day.
Seventy per cent of the Valencia project is owned by Forsys Metals, while a Namibian BEE company, Ancash Investments (chaired by Namibian entrepreneur, Zacky Nujoma), enjoys a 30 per cent share.
Forsys Metal announced on its website last month that it had received a permit for the extraction of groundwater for the Valencia Uranium Mine from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
It said the permit allows it to extract up to 1 000 cubic metres of water a day - "a sufficient quantity to continue with the development of the mine".
The permit is valid for two years, during which time 730 000 cubic metres of water would be extracted.
Reliable sources told The Namibian that a farm uses less water in 36 years than Valencia intends to extract in a month.
Although it is not a commercial farming area, there is major concern about the impact Valencia's water extraction would have on the environment and wildlife - especially in an area where ground water is scarce.
The permit can be withdrawn at any time, should the ground water level approach a critical level.
Farmers and other affected parties who have aired their concerns at several public meetings on the subject are now questioning the transparency of the shareholders.
One of their concerns is the fact that the permit is valid from the date of the last meeting held in Swakopmund on February 12 this year.
At that meeting, it had not yet been disclosed to local people how much water the mine would need.
Pierre Botha of Water Sciences, who undertook the hydro-geological survey, said at the meeting that the water pumps for the mine were not ready and that the issue would again be discussed with local farmers when they were.
The permit was however already valid on the day he made these comments.
Initially, in April last year, the company was quoted as saying it would require about four cubic metres of water a day during its construction phase.
This amount has gradually increased - later it was said that the mine would need about 300 cubic metres of water a day.
Now it is allowed to pump 1 000 cubic metres a day.
The affected parties say there is no meaningful data to justify this increase in demand.