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Rosatom Battling Elephant Poachers

A Rosatom-built road is making elephants in Tanzania more accessible.

Rosatom has elephant poachers to contend with in order to progress with the Mkuju River uranium project in Tanzania, said Sergei Kiriyenko, the Russian state nuclear corporation’s chief.

“We have a project team that has instructions to put up resistance to poachers who are culling elephants in Tanzania. The poachers took advantage when we built a road to the deposit,” Kiriyenko said during a lecture at the National Nuclear Research University in Moscow, Interfax reported.

Canada’s Uranium One, which is controlled by Rosatom’s Atomredmetzoloto, or ARMZ, is the project operator in Tanzania.

Kiriyenko said the UNESCO World Heritage Committee was monitoring the situation. All its demands must be met on the Mkuju River project. That’s why the company set up a special task force, which is buying helicopters and unmanned aircraft to locate the poachers’ campfires.

In July, Tanzania received UNESCO World Heritage Committee approval to exclude the Mkuju River uranium deposit from the UNESCO-protected Selous Game Reserve.

UNESCO’s decision, which withdraws 200 square kilometers from the wildlife sanctuary and thereby reduces its total area by 0.8 percent, will allow the ministry to issue a license to develop the uranium deposit.

ARMZ acquired Mantra Resources with its primary asset, Mkuju River, which is now being prepared for its final feasibility study. Uranium One, which bought 14 percent of Mantra from ARMZ at the beginning of this year, is the project’s operator. The rest of the stake might be bought up in an option by June 2013.

Uranium One board chairman Ian Telfer said in June that the company plans to secure all the necessary permits to develop the Tanzanian project by June. All the documentation needed to secure licenses and permits for the Mkuju River project has been sent to the relevant Tanzanian government authorities and is being reviewed, ARMZ said.

The implementation phase will begin once the necessary permits have been received, it said.

ARMZ manages Rosatom’s uranium production assets. Uranium One’s production results are consolidated in ARMZ’s production results.

Uranium One is one of the largest publicly traded uranium producers in the world, with its shares listed on the Toronto and Johannesburg stock exchanges. ARMZ consolidated control over the Canadian company at the end of 2010.

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