By Donna Collins
SWAKOP Uranium’s first drum of uranium ore concentrate produced from the Husab just weeks ago, has already been sold to clients in China with more to follow as the new uranium plant which is dubbed the ‘largest in the world’, ramps up for full production this year.
Percy McCallum, vice president Human Resources and Business Support at Swakop Uranium, told Confidente this week, that this was a huge celebration which they have all worked hard to achieve. He also said that the mine has since been churning out at least a barrel a day as they move towards their target, with China being their main client.
“The plant will continue to be optimised in 2017, and once in full production Husab Mine has the potential to produce 15 million pounds (6 800 tonnes) uranium oxide per year,” he said, adding that capital investment in the project to date exceeds N$28 billion.
“This was a historic moment which marked a significant milestone in the mine’s development which began just 10 years ago,” said McCallum.
He pointed out that they will need time to iron out any teething problems, but with production already up and running, they are confident their goals will be reached.
Meanwhile speaking at the momentous occasion at the end of December, CEO Zheng Keping said this signifies the start of a new phase in the history of the Husab Mine.
“Now that the Husab Mine is officially in production, this marks the successful functioning of all sections of the operating chain, including the mine and all stages of the processing plant.”
He explained that the initial exploration and discovery was in 2006, with construction of the mine, processing plant and associated infrastructure in 2012. Mining operations began in 2014, while construction of the processing plant was largely completed during the last quarter of 2016, and commissioning commenced immediately afterward.
During 2016, over 100 million tonnes of material were removed. Mining takes place in two open pits that will each eventually be approximately 3km by 1.5km, and up to 400m deep. It has been confirmed as the highest-grade, granite-hosted uranium deposit in Namibia and one of the world’s most significant discoveries in decades.
Furthermore at the peak of construction, up to 4 500 employees were engaged on the Husab project, and Swakop Uranium prides itself as being one of the biggest employers in the country, engaging more than 1 700 permanent staff and a further 400 contractor workers.
A record total amount of N$191 million has been committed to technical training, in particular for operators and artisans. The company currently hosts nine interns, and will employ 22 graduates in 2017. This year, 14 undergraduate and two postgraduate bursaries will be awarded to Namibians, for studies in various mining industry-related studies.
A number of Swakop Uranium employees are given the opportunity to visit China and gain exposure to the high standards and quality applied at nuclear power plants. Returning employees enhance the company’s management and supervisory practices to uplift productivity and work ethics.
The company has also established a social responsibility trust, the Swakop Uranium Foundation. In association with the local communities, the Erongo Development Foundation (EDF) and the Erongo Regional Governor’s office, the foundation collaborates to help uplift the living standards of the communities, focusing the elderly and disadvantaged communities. The Swakop Uranium Foundation set aside N$800 000 in 2016 to assist with areas such as youth unemployment, a Food Bank, drought relief, improving sanitation, vocational education training and rural enterprising.
The life of the Husab Mine is currently projected at over 20 years with exploration continuing to define further resources and provide job security and continued economic and social contributions for many years. Swakop Uranium Pty Ltd (SU) is a Namibian registered company that owns and operates the Husab uranium mine. The company is owned by CGN, CAD Fund and Epangelo Mining.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015