Husab commissioning in progress
Swakop Uranium, the developer of the N$20 billion Husab Mine, says construction of the state-of-the-art processing facility is now complete, and commissioning is in progress at the world’s biggest uranium mine.
Swakop Uranium Chief Executive Officer, Zheng Keping, told the Windhoek Observer that the processing plant now await final testing and would be commissioned towards the end of the third quarter.
Keping said uranium production is expected to begin later this year, and would average 15 million pounds per year once steady state production is reached.
He said Swakop Uranium has already engaged the majority of its workforce, to cater for the demands of its mining operation.
“The mining operation is already well underway, having started in March 2014. To date, we have moved over 140 million tonnes of overburden, and begun to build ore stockpiles,” Keeping said.
“Construction of the state-of-the-art processing facility is complete, and commissioning is in progress. First ore was crushed in July 2016, while the on-site laboratory and acid plant have been successfully brought into operation.
“The remainder of the plant is being systematically tested and commissioned before introduction of ore and reagents.”
More than 1,500 staff members have already been recruited, in addition to the 4,000 temporary positions created during construction and commissioning.
Keping said capital investment in the project had exceeded N$20 billion, making it the largest single physical investment to date by China in Africa.
Once operational, the Husab Mine would propel Namibia to become the world’s third largest producer of uranium.
The majority of the uranium oxide produced at Husab would be sold to Swakop Uranium’s major shareholder China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).
CGN is a large clean energy group with an installed nuclear capacity of 17,091 Megawatts electric (MWe) representing 59,3 percent of China’s installed nuclear capacity.
CGN has a further 14,650 MWe under construction, which accounts for 51,7 percent of the capacity being built in China, making it the largest developer of nuclear power in the world.
Mining at Husab started with the first blast in March 2014. The mine recently celebrated the milestone of two years of operations without a lost time injury (LTI), a safety record that the company is eager to maintain.