Last uranium mines in Europe shut down over insufficient funding
|Novokonstantinovskaya uranium mine, Ukraine. Image credit: VostGOK.|
(Kitco News) - Local media reported yesterday that all three uranium mines in Ukraine have been shut down due to insufficient funding. These mines are the last commercial producers of uranium in Europe.
In the state-owned uranium shafts in the Kirovohrad area, only the essential services for ventilation, pumping and water treatment are working. Around 5000 workers were placed on unpaid leave.
The reason for the shutdown is debt of the state company Energoatom amounting to the equivalent of four million euros. Energoatom is the only buyer of uranium in Ukraine.
For a long time there had been wage arrears and a lack of protective clothing, equipment and even explosives.
Trade union representatives also fear about potential power cuts due to unpaid bills.
This means that water that penetrates into the area could no longer be pumped out and the area's groundwater could become radioactively contaminated.
According to the World Nuclear Association, Ukraine produced 801 tonnes of uranium metal in 2019.