KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – Efforts to get uranium mining under way in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya came to a halt on Thursday with State-run Uranium Corporation Limited (UCIL) deciding to close down its offices in the region and terminate the services of its contract workers.
Meghalaya is the third richest in terms of uranium reserves, accounting for about 16% of the country’s total uranium reserves after Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
UCIL has been trying to get uranium mining under way in Meghalaya for the last 15 years, but has not been successful in securing a mining lease from the state government, although it has started pre-mining activities.
The state government was unable to grant any mining lease in the face of stiff opposition from the local population fearing health and environmental degradation of the ecologically sensitive hilly terrains of Meghalaya.
The decision by UCIL to down shutters of its offices and operation in the state came in the wake of assaults on officials of the federal Atomic Minerals Department by a section of the local population opposing the initiation of pre-mining exploratory drilling, in two Meghalaya districts bordering Bangladesh.
Services of all contract workers of UCIL have been terminated although the latter issued an assurance that workers would be re-instated once mining could be resumed.
Local officials said that resumption of uranium mining in the region was a remote possibility since the Meghalaya government had already cancelled the lease of land granted to UCIL in 2009.