The government of Bolivia announced a preliminary study for a program of uranium exploration in the southern department of Potosí this month, and broached the possibility of uranium exports to Venezuela. The program, projected at costing $500,000, will be financed by the Potosí departmental government and carried out by the National Mineral Geological and Technical Service (Sergeotecmin). The Bolivian Institute of Nuclear Technology, a moribund agency since its uranium processing plant in Potosí was closed 25 years ago, may be revived if the exploration program is successful.
The Canadian firm Mega Uranium—part of the U308 Corporation, with operations in Guyana, Colombia and Argentina—in association with Australia-based Intrepid Mines worked uranium exploration leases in Potosí in 2006, but never announced results. (BBC Mundo, May 19; Reuters, May 17)
Last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced during a visit to Bolivia that he had secured a pledge of Iranian cooperation with uranium exploration in his country—sparking concerns about a South American role for Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. However, regardless of where the Bolivian uranium will end up, it is ironic to see President Evo Morales—with his much-touted concern for animal rights and climate change—loaning legitimacy to the oxymoron of “safe nuclear power.”