Operations at the Husab Uranium Mine commenced last Thursday after President Hifikepunye Pohamba commissioned the multibillion-dollar uranium project. China General Nuclear Power Corporation, which owns a 25 percent stake in Langer Heinrich Mine, is the majority shareholder with a 90 percent stake. Namibia is now home to four uranium mines. The others are Rössing Uranium, Langer Heinrich and Trekkopje. The ceremony was attended by senior Namibian government officials, including President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Namibia Xin Shun Kang and the nuclear power corporation’s chairman Ho Yu.
“The development and opening of this mine demonstrates that Namibia continues to be an attractive destination for foreign direct investment,” said Pohamba during Thursday’s ceremony that also saw the first heavy-duty mining equipment at Husab being started up. N$7 billion has been pumped into the development of the mine, which was granted a mining license in November 2012. More than 8000 workers will be employed during the ongoing construction phase, including some 2000 direct employment opportunities.
“The participation of Epangelo Mining Company in this major project reflects the majority investor’s commitment to creating win-win partnerships with a local company,” said the president during the well-attended event. “Government will continue to improve the investment climate in our country through the development and review of relevant laws and policies governing Namibia’s foreign investment framework,” said the president. He further attributed Namibia’s ability to lure foreign investors to the country’s political stability and sound macroeconomic policies.
Pohamba urged the owners to continue “the implementation of this project with commitment until the first uranium is produced from the mine in 2015.” The construction of the mine is scheduled for completion by the end of next year, and production is forecast to rise to 5770 tonnes of uranium per year by 2017. The operation will be an open pit mine with an acid leach process plant on site. Its ore body is said to be the third largest uranium deposit in the world. Reserves of about 140 000 tonnes of uranium is expected to keep the mine in operation for at least 20 years. The mine, situated some 22 km south of Arandis, will comprise of two pits, a three kilometre zone 1 pit, which is 1km wide and 412m deep, while the zone 2 pit measures about 2km and is 1.3 km wide and 377m deep.
The nuclear corporation said the Husab mine has sufficient reserves to supply enough uranium to produce 20 gigawatt of electricity or GWe of nuclear capacity for almost 40 years. The company currently has a fleet of ten operating nuclear power reactors with a total installed capacity of 10.5 GWe. There is a further 14 units under construction with a combined capacity of 16.6 GWe. The mine will use about 7 million cubic metres of desalinated water per year once in full production. Swakop Uranium will have an annual turnover of N$10 billion once the Husab mine is in full production. The Husab project is expected to contribute around 6 percent to the Namibian Gross Domestic Product.