By Hilary Mare
THE fire that gutted Rossing Uranium’s Final Product Recovery (FPR) plant on February 12 cost the company one week production which translates to N$16million, Werner Duvenhage, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Rossing Uranium has said.
With initial assessments of the affected area at the FPR plant showing that the fire was isolated to the roasters inside the facility, Duvenhage further revealed that they had re-opened the plant last week well ahead of schedule.
“As we entered 2015, the mine sustained an incident that impacted us in the first quarter of this year. A fire broke out at our Final Product Recovery plant. No employees were injured during the incident and there were no uranium spills in the area, and none of the uranium drummed and stored outside the plant was affected. As only part of the plant was affected, we continued with uranium production.
“The fire did not do much damage to our production and cost us only a week in production which translates numerically to about N$16 million,” he said in an inquiry.
Speaking about the company’s performance in the 2014 financial year, Duvenhage confirmed a downturn of revenue saying that with the curtailed operations they produced 1,543 tonnes of uranium oxide, down from 2,409 tonnes in 2013, which accounts for about 2.3 percent of the world production of primary produced uranium.
“The challenging times currently experienced in our industry are mainly because of global influences. It was a tough year because the uranium price continued to decline globally, putting substantial pressure on our business, with the average uranium spot market price at US$33/lbs, much lower than the US$38/lbs average in 2013.
“The impact of lower prices and the lower production figures, strained our revenue which reduced by 19 per cent compared to the previous year, and in turn led to a net loss after tax of N$91 million, while we reported a net profit of N$32 million in 2013, but losses in 2012, 2011 and 2010. Our turnover in 2014 was N$2.4 billion, down from N$2.9 billion in 2013,” he said.
However, the company’s cash-generation projects motivated all employees to come up with cost- and time-saving initiatives and during the year the ideas derived from employees allowed Rossing to save N$149 million.
“You can read in our Report to Stakeholders about case studies of cost saving initiatives from our employees. One such project is the compressor optimisation; another about our tailings storage facility water extraction project; and the Tulip-plug project that is saving millions with blasting in our open pit, or our haul truck payload management project where Paulina Kapitango, a female graduate mining engineer is leading the work. “To our credit, we have an excellent supply of uranium bearing ore from our open pit, a number of sales contracts running beyond 2017 and also a reliable infrastructure in place such as water and electricity supply, transport links, and excellent standing in the community in which we operate,” he added.
Rössing now has a personnel complement of 900 employees of whom 98 percent are Namibians. Their strategic focus continues to be on training and developing of employees, and addressing skills shortages. They have invested more than N$50 million in training and development over the past five years. The company continues to invest in its human capital by offering a wide range of improvement and leadership development programmes, and capitalises on Rio Tinto’s exchange and secondment programmes.
Rössing remains a responsible corporate citizen with corporate social responsibility programmes extending into the work of the Rössing Foundation, providing support in the fields of the environment, education, health and recreation for more than 30 years. Over the past five years, more than N$152 million was invested in social investment programmes.
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