DAR ES SALAAM, July 5 (Reuters) - Tanzania has received U.N. approval for Australia-based miner Mantra Resources to build a $400 million uranium mine in a world heritage game reserve despite pressure from environmental groups opposed to the project, it said on Thursday.
Green groups have warned that toxic mining activities at the plant would harm the ecologically sensitive Selous Game Reserve in the east African country.
The Tanzanian government expects the proposed uranium mine on the fringe of the Selous Game reserve to generate an annual gross turnover averaging $250 million for 15 years.
The authorities have maintained that the reduction of the size of the world heritage site was marginal and that future mining activities at the area would not disturb the wildlife.
The country said it would demarcate 0.8 percent of the total area of the 50,000-square-kilometre reserve for uranium mining.
“The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has accepted Tanzania’s request to make changes to the territory of the Selous Game Reserve to pave way for uranium mining,” Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Hamisi Kagasheki said in a statement.
He said the UNESCO committee made the decision at its June 22-July 6 session in St Petersburg, Russia, in response to Tanzania’s request made in January last year.
Tanzania says it has at least 54 million pounds of uranium oxide deposits.
The Selous is expected to earn $5 million in annual fees from the uranium mine against the game reserve’s current yearly income of about $500,000, which would be used in the conservation of wildlife, the government has said. (Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala; Editing by Richard Lough)