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Issues at Operating Uranium Mines and Mills - South/Central America

(last updated 16 May 2023)


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> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Decommissioning Projects · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Argentina   flag

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San Rafael
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Decommissioning Projects · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Argentina, General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)



San Rafael

San Rafael (Mendoza)

> View deposit info
> See also extra Sierra Pintada Uranium District, Mendoza

> Documentación Remediación Sierra Pintada , Dirección de Protección Ambiental, Mendoza (in Spanish)
> Seguimiento del proceso de remediación del complejo minero fabril Sierra Pintada , Dirección de Protección Ambiental, Mendoza (in Spanish)

Uranium mining in San Rafael is opposed by ¿Uranio? No Gracias .


After years of delays, remediation project of Sierra Pintada uranium mine still in preparatory phase: The engineer Miriam Skalany, director of Environmental Protection, in dialogue with FM Vos 94.5 [...]:
"We are in the testing stage of all the facilities, since the entire process is carried out using sulfuric acid. [...]"
"The extraction is for 14 thousand kilos of uranium that is currently buried in the so-called trenches. [...]"
"The tons of uranium to be extracted will be transferred to the Ezeiza complex to finish the concentration process. The materials that remain here are treated as hazardous waste and are analyzed. If these still have traces of uranium, they have to go to a security fill, where they remain encapsulated. In Mendoza we do not have security landfills, so they will be transferred to Neuquén or Santa Fe. [...]"
"The process, once it starts, will last at least five years for the treatment of solids. Afterwards, it will be extended for another five years with regard to the entire procedure of evaporation and treatment of the effluents that are generated. [...]" (Diario San Rafael May 16, 2023)

Public hearing on remediation project of Sierra Pintada uranium mine - remediation to last six to ten years: The Sierra Pintada mine - San Rafael - produced uranium for the operation of Argentina's nuclear plants. As contaminated wastes were buried at this place, there will be a public hearing on Wednesday [Jan. 9] in which will explained how the cleanup of the mining complex will be done, which will last between six and 10 years.
"The Sierra Pintada mine was closed more than 25 years ago and there were left several liabilities of the mining exploitation, liabilities that the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) never remedied and they were not required to remedy," explained Humberto Mingorance, Secretary of Environment and Territorial Ordinance [of Mendoza]. He added: "This is a very sensitive issue for the people of San Rafael, we have to remedy 1,200,000 cubic meters of contaminated pit water and 5,223 200-liter barrels that contain solids and are buried". (Diario Uno Jan. 7, 2019)
> View: Province of Mendoza release Jan. 8, 2019 (in Spanish)
> Download: Environmental Impact Statement (in Spanish)
> View: CNEA release Jan. 8, 2019 (in Spanish)

Argentina's Auditor General's Office denounces lack of progress in management of environmental liabilities at Sierra Pintada uranium mine: On July 16, 2015, the Auditor General's Office released a report denouncing the lack of progress in the management of the environmental liabilities at the Sierra Pintada uranium mine and mill site. The mine is inactive since 1997 and is not allowed to restart operations, before the environmental liabilities are cleaned up.
> View AGN release July 16, 2015 (in Spanish)
> Download AGN report (26.3MB PDF - in Spanish)

Environmental Impact Study presented for Sierra Pintada uranium mine: A new environmental impact study that could be the initial step for the reopening of the San Rafael mining complex in Sierra Pintada, was presented this week at the occasion of a site visit requested by the federal judge in San Rafael, Eduardo Puigdéngolas. (Los Andes Apr. 24, 2014)

CNEA fined for negligence in avoiding discharges from the idle Sierra Pintada uranium mill site: The General Department of Irrigation, through its Water Police Division, fined the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) 300,000 pesos [US$ 43,800] for negligence. The penalty reflects the results of the analysis carried out by Irrigation in the alluvial channel (The Toscalito stream) flowing into the El Tigre creek, after crossing the industrial area of the Sierra Pintada Manufacturing Complex (in San Rafael), an area in which the uranium processing plant, heap leach piles, tanks, grinding and storage facilities are located.
The discharges from a waste water dam with high concentrations in uranium, radium and other highly dangerous substances, including pathogens, directly flow into the El Tigre creek and then into the río Diamante river.
Irrigation requires an "immediate priority intervention" on the waste water dam. (Los Andes Jan. 19, 2014)

CNEA denies plan to relocate Dioxitek UO2 plant (Córdoba) to Sierra Pintada
> View here

At the occasion of the Livestock Festival in Alvear, protests were held against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario Uno May 12, 2012)

On March 23, 2012, a leak was detected in the HDPE liner of an evaporation pond at the Sierra Pintada uranium complex. (Los Andes May 3, 2012)

The Supreme Court of the Nation rejected a complaint filed by the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA): In order to be able to restart mining in the Sierra Pintada uranium complex, CNEA will first have to remedy the existing environmental liabilities. (Los Andes Dec. 17, 2010)

The Supreme Court of the Nation rejected an appeal filed by "Multisectorial of the South for a sustainable development" against the National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA), the state-owned organism that owns the Sierra Pintada uranium complex. The appeal focused on the possible hazard of contamination of water resources by the uranium mine. (Los Andes June 12, 2010)

A report prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) found that concentrations of natural uranium and radium in Río Diamante were below national and international guideline values during the monitoring period 1998-2007, despite the impacts of the inactive San Rafael uranium mine site. (Los Andes 4 Apr 2009)

The Federal Chamber of Appeals of the province of Mendoza ordered the Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA) to abstain from reopening the San Rafael uranium mine (that is inactive since 1995), because it is potentially harmful for the environment. (Los Andes 19 Feb 2009)

CNEA expects to begin the works to repair the effluent ponds at the former Sierra Pintada uranium mine with an investment of $5 million early in December 2007. This is a prerequisite for future resumption of the mine operation. (Diario Uno Nov. 9, 2007)

At the request of a member of Multisectoral del Sur , a federal judge ordered that no works preparing production may be performed at the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. The judge summoned a hearing on June 26, 2007. (Diario San Rafael 20 June 2007)

The World Bank is interested in financing the restart of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine, provided that a solution is found for the reclamation of the former operations. (Los Andes June 6, 2007)

The wine producers of the San Rafael river basin fear that the reopening of a uranium mine in the Sierra Pintada area endangers the prestige that their wine has in the exporting market, mainly American and European. In an attempt to measure the real impact of the uranium, they summoned specialists of the National University of La Plata (UNLP) to analyze water, grape juice, and products of the region. (Diario Hoy April 1, 2007)

A powerful coalition of vineyards, organic farmers and local businesses is up in arms, warning residents that their water, air and soil are at risk of being poisoned and their livelihoods, export markets, tourist industry and health could be ruined.
The issue is so explosive that for now, there is no official talk of restarting the Sierra Pintada mine complex. A public hearing is scheduled for February 17, 2007, to discuss the National Atomic Energy Commission's (CNEA) plan to clean up uranium waste that has been left at the site since operations halted a decade ago. Opponents say the plan, presented to the provincial government a year ago, is flawed and merely "environmental window dressing". "We are urgently asking for a clean-up but based on a serious study, not a secondary-school report", said Raul Montenegro, a biologist with the 38-group coalition.
He said waters in the Tigre stream, which flows through the mine and into the Diamond River that supplies semi-arid San Rafael with drinking water, contain up to 75 micrograms of uranium per litre - which he said was more than twice the levels permitted in the US, Canada and Australia. The CNEA says the water is naturally high in uranium and independent studies have proved there is no contamination. (Financial Times Feb. 8, 2007)

On Dec. 1, 2006, Multisectorial del Sur held a demonstration in San Rafael against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario San Rafael Dec. 4, 2006)

The public hearing scheduled on Nov. 2, 2006, for discussion of CNEA's Environmental Impact Study for the reclamation of the abandoned Sierra Pintada uranium mine was suspended upon receipt of a notification issued by the Fourth Civilian Court of San Rafael at the request of Multisectoral del Sur. (Diario Uno Nov. 2, 2006)

Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA) has opened an information centre at San Rafael to inform the public on the proposed reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario Uno Oct. 29, 2006)

On October 16 - 20, 2006, a public hearing will be held on the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. Provided the Provincial Government issues a declaration of environmental impact, the reclamation of the environmental liabilites from former mining at the site could start by the end of the year. The reclamation work would take two years; CNEA has a total budget of $ 17 million for it. (Diario Uno Sep. 16, 2006)

At the occasion of the visit of Argentina's president Néstor Kirchner on August 29, 2006, Multisectorial del Sur held a march in San Rafael against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. (Diario San Rafael Sep. 4, 2006)

Frightened by the possible contamination of the Diamante River and the environment, hundreds of inhabitants marched on June 2, 2006, through the downtown streets of San Rafael to demand that the Sierra Pintada uranium mine should not be reopened nor any other uranium mine should be permitted. (Diario Uno June 3, 2006)

CNEA has scheduled the beginning of the reclamation of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine for mid-2006. CNEA maintains, however, that the requested complete reclamation of the old workings is not possible, since most backfilling could only be done after the final closure of the mine. For the reclamation work, approval of the provincial government is required.
The mine could then be reopened in mid-2007. For resumption of mining, in addition, a new license has to obtained from the nuclear authority Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear (ARN). (Los Andes March 22, 2006)

A march against the re-opening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine prior to cleanup of the environmental liabilities of former mining is held in San Rafael on Feb. 17, 2006. (Diario San Rafael Feb. 17, 2006)

The Federal Court of San Rafael has ordered the prohibition of all activities associated with the re-opening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine. The decision was taken at the request of Multisectorial para el Desarrollo Sustentable, an organization comprising about 40 local NGOs, and having repeatedly spoken out against the reopening of the mine before the environmental liabilities of nearly 20 years of uranium mining have not been cleaned up. (Diario San Rafael Apr. 4, 2005)

On March 17, 2005, Alberto Llach, president of the Chamber of Commerce of San Rafael, confirmed the position of the directory: "Before considering the reactivation of uranium mining, CNEA must reclaim the environmental liabilities in San Rafael and Malargüe". (Los Andes March 18, 2005)

On July 27, 2004, Argentina's atomic energy commission (CNEA) has handed over to Mendoza provincial authorities the environmental impact study (EIS) to revive the Sierra Pintada uranium mine, located in Mendoza's San Rafael district. CNEA wants Sierra Pintada, which has a capacity of 120t/y, to produce close to 2,500t of uranium over 20 years. The 1800-page document was prepared by the Technical University of Avellaneda.
Ongoing negotiations are aimed at resolving the question of environmental legacies resulting from previous operations at the mine. It is CNEA's responsibility to find a solution to these problems, which include uranium tailings.
Moreover, a committee from the province's lower house of parliament has been set up to look into the economic and social aspects of the project and has been given 90 days to report back. (BNamericas 29 Jul 2004, Ministerio de Economía Jul 2004)

Argentina's atomic energy commission CNEA is pushing ahead with administrative procedures to enable it to reopen the San Rafael uranium deposit in the Sierra Pintada area of southern Mendoza province, in the central-west region of the country. The CNEA will present an environmental impact study (EIS) for the project in coming days, Juan Fallet, the province's mining authority director told BNamericas. Preparations are going ahead despite protests by an NGO known as Fundación Nativa and some members of the San Rafael chamber of commerce who are opposed to the development. "There will probably be a public hearing to decide the next steps," Fallet said. (BNamericas Oct. 30, 2003)

The local Chamber of Commerce (Cámara de Comercio, Industria y Agropecuaria de San Rafael ) joins the opposition against the reopening of the Sierra Pintada uranium mine, since the mine would have severe impacts on the regional economy. (Los Andes Aug. 25, 2003)

> See also: San Rafael: los vecinos ya le dicen no a la mina de uranio. (The neighbours already say no to the uranium mine) (FUNAM Aug. 26, 2003, in Spanish)

The Argentine National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) is preparing to restart mining operations at its Sierra Pintada uranium deposit in Mendoza province. The mine has been shut since 1997 and should be up and running by October 2003. (BNamericas 13 Feb 2003)

Brazil   flag

(Maps and boundary data are copyrighted by FOTW - Flags Of The World web site)

Caetité · Engenho · Lagoa Real
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Decommissioning Projects · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Brazil, General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)



Caetité · Engenho · Lagoa Real

Engenho / Caetité, Bahia

New Engenho uranium mine at Caetité starts operations: On Dec. 1, 2020, INB inaugurated the new Engenho open-pit uranium mine at Caetité. The expectation is that 260 tons of uranium concentrate will be produced per year, when the Engenho Mine reaches its full capacity, which should occur in 2022.
At the INB Unit in Caetité, 3,750 tons of uranium concentrate were produced from the first mined area, the Cachoeira Mine, between 2000 and 2015. Since the exhaustion of the resources of the open pit mine, mining activities were paralyzed. (INB Dec. 1, 2020)

Five years after halt of operations, license renewed for Caetité uranium mine: The National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), the body responsible for overseeing activities involving the exploration of radioactive mineral in the country, renewed the operating license of a mine in Caetité in April. The request had been submitted by INB in February. The license renewal is for a period of 24 months. The license authorizes the exploitation of the Engenho Mine. (Estadão Oct. 7, 2019)

New Engenho uranium mine at Caetité awaiting license to start operations: The government is still trying to resume the production of uranium in 2018, paralyzed in 2014 after the Caetité (BA) mine was depleted.
According to the president of INB (Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil), Reinaldo Gonzaga, a new mine in the city located in Bahia is almost ready to start operating, but it still depends on licensing. The resumption of production is expected to occur by the end of the year.
The new mine has the capacity to produce 400 tons per year, the same capacity as the previous mine. (Folha de S.Paulo Aug. 30, 2018)

Removal of overburden at Engenho uranium mine in Caetité has started: Removal of the overburden from the future Engenho mine at INB's Uranium Concentration Unit in Caetité started on December 22, two days after obtaining authorisation from the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN).
INB expects this phase to last 10 months. As this first layer of soil already has some uranium content, it is estimated to obtain 73 tons of yellowcake in that period, with an initial production forecast for February 2017. The start of mining is scheduled for October 2017.
The Engenho mine has an estimated production capacity of 280 to 300 tons of uranium concentrate per year. Mining will take place in three open pits. In the first phase, pits No. 2 and 3 will be used. The removal of the overburden of pit No. 1 will begin in ten years from now.
The start-up of the planned underground mine at Caetité is foreseen for 2020. (INB Dec. 29, 2016)

Infrastructure works commissioned for Engenho uranium mine at Caetité: INB recently signed two contracts for the completion of infrastructure services necessary for the opening of the new Engenho mine in Caetité / BA. (INB Mar. 22, 2016)

Site preparation works commenced at Engenho uranium mining area at Caetité: With the Installation License to implement the open-pit mining of the Engenho mine already granted by IBAMA, INB began construction of access roads and the works for the opening of the mine site, informed the Director of Mineral Resources of the company Roberto Bahia, on Thursday (Sep. 3) in Caetité (BA). (INB Sep. 4, 2015)

Restart of uranium mining at Caetité planned for 2016: The Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB) plans to resume the mining and production of uranium concentrate (yellow cake) next year. The president of INB, Aquilino Senra, said on Wednesday (June 17) it received from Ibama the installation license for the exploitation of uranium ore in the Engenho open pit mine in Caetité, Bahia. The mine will have the capacity to produce 340 tons of uranium from 2017. Investments are estimated at R$ 150 million [US$ 49 million] over five years, from INB's own resources.
According to the executive, INB is in the process of preparing also the opening of a third mine in the same uranium deposit, to allow full compliance with the country's demand of 380 tons per year by 2018. With the depletion of the Cachoeira mine last year Brazil turned to the import of the uranium it needs. (INB June 18, 2015)

Construction license issued for new Engenho open pit mine at Caetité: The Installation License for deployment of open-pit mining of the Engenho mine was granted this month by IBAMA , the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. The license is valid for four years and brings conditions for the implementation of the project such as the construction of drainage systems of the Engenho mine in implementing the environmental monitoring program for the exhausted Cachoeira mine and the Engenho mine, as well as the program management of waste and monitoring of noise and dust, among other conditions. The Engenho mine also will be mined in the open, with three pits. This new deposit has a capacity to produce 4,730 tonnes of uranium concentrate [4,011 t U] for 14 years, maintaining an average annual production of 340 tonnes [288 t U]. (INB Apr. 29, 2015)

New Engenho uranium mining area in licensing process at Caetité: Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) is licensing a new deposit located in the area of the Caetité uranium mine and mill: the Engenho deposit will be exploited by open pit mining from 2015, through three pits. This new field has the capacity to produce a total of 4,730 tonnes of uranium concentrate in 14 years, corresponding to an average annual production of 340 tonnes.
An Environmental Control Plan with all the features of the Engenho deposit is being analyzed by IBAMA.
From the beginning, the INB in Caetité has been working the Cachoeira open pit mine, which produced a total of 3,640 tonnes of uranium concentrate. The extraction of the remaining ore from this mine will require adopting underground mining, which is also in the licensing process, expected to begin operations next year. (INB Oct. 17, 2014)


Lagoa Real / Caetité, Bahia

> View deposit info

Caetité uranium mill obtains operating license: The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) granted the renewal of the Operating License (No. 274/2002 - 2nd Renewal) for the Uranium Concentration Unit, in Caetité / BA. This license refers to the Cachoeira mine and the open pit mining of the Engenho Mine, as well as to the ore processing plant.
This was the last necessary step in the licensing process for the return to uranium extraction. On December 11, 2019, INB obtained authorization from the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) to continue mining at Engenho Mine. (INB Jan. 21, 2020)

Uranium One and INB sign MOU on transition of Caetité open-pit uranium mine to in situ leaching: "U1 Group SA", a subsidiary of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation "ROSATOM", and Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil SA (INB) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at, among others areas, providing relevant information to INB on underground uranium mining technology and the process of transition from the current open-pit mining method to the in-site recovery mining method.
INB opted for the continuation of uranium ore extraction at the Cachoeira Mine, located in the municipality of Caetité, state of Bahia, Brazil, by means of an underground mine, since feasibility studies have shown that, due to the increase in the sterile/ore ratio, it is impracticable to continue its extraction through open pit mining below a depth of 770 m. (DefesaNet June 20, 2018)

Uranium concentrations found in well water near Caetité uranium mine are of natural origin, study: From studies and analyzes on the conditions of geology and hydrology of Caetité region and the environmental and radiological monitoring programs developed by Uranium concentrate Unit of Nuclear Industries of Brazil, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) found that uranium concentrations found in well water in the town of Varginha, municipality of Lagoa Real / BA, are from the geological environment in which it operates. (INB Apr. 7, 2016)

CRIIRAD releases report on independent radiation monitoring performed at Caetité uranium mine: On Jan. 28, 2015, the independent radiation laboratory CRIIRAD released a report on radiation monitoring performed in April 2014 around the Caetité uranium mine. CRIIRAD took gamma radiation readings and collected soil and water samples. Due to budget constraints, only two soil samples could be analyzed and only selected parameters could be analyzed for the three water samples collected, limiting the relevance of the results obtained.
> Download: The radiological impact of INB uranium mine in Caetité (Bahia / Brazil) , by Bruno Chareyron, Jan. 28, 2015 (883kB PDF)
> Download: Relatório Preliminar: Justiça Ambiental E Mineração De Urânio Em Caetité/Ba: Avaliação Crítica Da Gestão Ambiental E Dos Impactos À Saúde Da População , 11 de abril de 2014 (2.6MB PDF - in Portuguese)

Uranium produced at Caetité transported to France for conversion and enrichment: A load of 119 tonnes of uranium concentrate was shipped to France last week, where the material is enriched and then returned to INB's Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory. Although it owns the technology, INB's Resende enrichment plant is not yet able to meet all the demand of production. (INB May 15, 2014)

Miners' Union denounces two leaks at Caetité uranium mill: The Miners' Union Sindmineradores revealed today that the Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB) managed to hide an accident at TQ 1402, a big storage tank of the uranium concentrate production system, that lead to the release of radioactive liquid to the soil for more than one month. And, yesterday another leak was detected in the final product area of the mill. It's the same area that was partially closed by the Ministry of Labor and MTE in July 2011, due to irregularities identified at INB. (Sindmineradores Dec. 13, 2013)
INB confirmed the leaks on Dec. 17, 2013.

Guard falls into uranium pond at Lagoa Real / Caetité mine: On June 26, 2013, a guard fell into a pond holding uranium-containing waters. No health effects were observed. (INB July 5, 2013)

Caetité uranium mine obtains approval for underground mining: The Caetité uranium mine that so far has produced 3,370 t in an open pit mine, has now obtained approval by the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) for underground mining. INB now awaits CNEN approval of the construction license for the underground operation with an annual capacity of 400 t of uranium ore concentrate. (INB Mar. 27, 2013)

Spill of uranium ore concentrate at Caetité uranium mill: On Oct. 18, 2012, around 100 kilograms of uranium ore concentrate spilled in the packaging area of the Caetité uranium mill. The concentrate was recovered and the area cleaned. (INB Oct. 24. 2012)

Uranium concentration in groundwater near Caetité uranium mine meets standard: Monitoring of the Caetité groundwater performed in 2011 showed that uranium concentrations are below the limit of 0.015 mg/L set by the National Environment Council (Conselho Nacional de Meio Ambiente - CONAMA). (INB March 30, 2012)

Caetité uranium mine to double production: Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) plans to double the production in its Caetité mine to 800 tons within five years. The mineral that is extracted at the moment in Caetité has a uranium concentration of around 0.3%, while the potential reserves that are explored nearby could reach 0.6%. (Reuters Oct. 31, 2011)

Parliamentary commission discusses NGO report on impacts of uranium mining at Caetité: A report with denunciations of the population of Caetité (Bahia) on contamination of the water, lack of transparency and violation of the human rights with the extration of uranium in the city was launched this Thursday (Oct. 6), by the Brazilian Platform of Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Human Rights (Dhesca), an organization of the civil society, during a hearing of the Commission of Environment and Sustainable Development.
"The main complaints of the population relate to the question of the water. What we evidence is that the population does not have trustworth nor sufficient information to feel reassured in relation to its health", said Marijane Vieira Lisbon, responsible for the report. "There is a very high incidence of cancers in the region, particularly of leukemia, that is an illness strongly associated to radioactive exposure."
The president of the Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB), Alfredo Trajan Filho, responsible for the mining of uranium in Caetité, contested the claim of the water of Caetité being contaminated. "This is a question that never existed. The water that is there is the same water that has been there for 400 million years", Alfredo said. "What people have to do: if it contains uranium, that it always has contained, above the public health standard, this well must be shut down and the water no longer be used." (Agência Câmara de Notícias Oct. 6, 2011)
> Download Relatório da Missão Caetité: Violações de Direitos Humanos no Cielo do Nuclear [Report of the Caetité Mission: Violations of Human Rights in the Nuclear Cycle], Dhesca Brasil, August 2011 (6MB PDF - in Portuguese)

Caetité uranium mill allowed to resume operation: On Sep. 14, 2011, the Ministry of Labor and Employment permitted the area of Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB) in Caetité in southwestern Bahia, responsible for packaging of uranium concentrate. (Bahia Notícias Sep. 15, 2011)

Spill at Caetité uranium mill: On May 2, 2010, a rupture of pipework at the Caetité uranium mill caused a spill of thousands of litres of uranium solution to the ground. INB suspended all activities in order to remove the contaminated soil. (IBAMA May 2, 2010)

IAEA inspection team identifies groundwater impacts at Caetité uranium mine: A new IAEA service for the promotion of best practices and safety in the uranium production cycle, the Uranium Production Site Appraisal Team (UPSAT), was first used to review the uranium production site of Caetité, State of Bahia, Brazil, in a two-week visit of the site that was completed on 5 February 2010. The Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) had requested the IAEA to assemble a team to visit the uranium mining and milling plant at Caetité with the objective to receive an evaluation of its performance.
The international team of experts identified good practices within the production system and gave advise on areas for future improvements. Within the mining production area, some environmental impacts in ground water have been noted, probably in relation to above-ground disposal of mining residues and waste. These should be further studied to confirm that they are real and, if so, appropriate remedial actions implemented and appropriate adjustments made to the environmental monitoring programme (IAEA Feb. 9, 2010)

Wells near Caetité uranium mine closed for excess radiation levels: The Instituto de Gestão das Águas e Clima (INGÁ) has ordered the immediate suspension of water use from three water wells in Caetité that showed elevated levels radioactivity. Two of the wells are located on INB's premises and are used for industrial purposes, while the third well is used for potable water supply. INB maintains that the third well is located at a distance of 6 kilometres from the mine and could therefore not be impacted by the mine. (INGÁ Jan. 20, 2010; INB Jan. 22, 2010)

INB fined for not immediately reporting spill at Caetité uranium mill: On Nov. 19, 2009, Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Renovaveis (Ibama) fined INB Real 1 million [US$ 623,000] for not immediately reporting a spill of organic sovlvent containing uranium that occured on October 28, 2009, in the Caetité uranium mill. (IBAMA Nov. 20, 2009)

INB releases results of groundwater monitoring near Caetité uranium mill: On Dec. 10, 2008, Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) released a report on the results of groundwater monitoring in the community of Juazeiro which is located at a distance of 7 km from the uranium mill (Unidade de Concentrado de Urânio, URA) processing the ore extracted from the Caetité uranium mine. The average uranium concentration in groundwater at Juazeiro during the survey period in the years 2000 - 2008 (covering the operational phase of the mill) was 3.07 micrograms per litre, with a maximum of 14.3 micrograms per litre. All values remained below the applicable standard (Resolução 396 do CONAMA) of 15 micrograms per litre.
The uranium concentration in the years 1900 - 1999 (before startup of the mill) was at a comparable level (average of 3.44 micrograms per litre, with a maximum of 14.2 micrograms per litre).
At the mill site, maximum uranium concentrations in groundwater came up to 1984 micrograms per litre (!).

> Download Informações sobre monitorações de águas na comunidade do Juazeiro (282kB PDF - in Portuguese)

INB plans to double production from Caetité uranium mine by 2011: At present, INB produces 400 tonnes a year of uranium at its Caetité mines in the northeastern Bahia state. In 2011, the INB plans to add 400 tonnes from Caetité's new Engenho pit, which should effectively double total production compared with now. (Reuters Dec. 10, 2007)

Parliamentary Commission finds serious deficiencies with control of Caetité uranium mine: On March 15, 2006, a working group of the House of Representatives' Commission on Environment and Sustainable Development released its report on nuclear control and safety. The report identifies serious deficiences with the control of the Caetité uranium mine, among others:

> Comissão de Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável - CMADS (in Portuguese)
> Download Relatório do Grupo de Trabalho Fiscalização e Segurança Nuclear, março de 2006 (1.84M PDF - in Portuguese)


On January 17, 2002, INB exported the first shipment of uranium from Caetité. The first 500-kg shipment went to Belgium. (EFE/Gazeta Mercantil Jan. 17, 2002)

Authorisation to resume uranium operations at Lagoa Real mine was given to Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) by the environmental control entity - Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Renovaveis (Ibama) - and Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear (CNEN). Production was halted 12 months ago due to a uranium leakage. In that period, lost production amounted to 400 tonnes U3O8 (339 tU). (WNA News Briefing 01.46, Nov. 14, 2001)

In October 2000, INB put the operations of the Lagoa Real / Caetité mine on hold, in response to the leak that occured in April 2000. (Gazeta Mercantil, Oct. 27, 2000)

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