Russians rekindle interest in nuclear plant

26 May 2017 Author   CHAMWE KAIRA
Visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Yury Trutnev, has revived his country’s interest to build a nuclear power plant in Namibia.
Trutnev, who is also co-chairman of the Namibia-Russia Inter-governmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, wondered why Namibia imports 60 percent of its electricity needs when it has capacity to build nuclear plants given its abundant uranium deposits.
Trutnev said Namibia must build nuclear energy plants to meet its electricity needs.
A net importer of electricity, Namibia currently has an installed generation capacity of 513,4 MW, with a peak demand in winter of 650MW.
“The new technology is 100 percent safe. Namibia and Russia can cooperate in this field,” he said during a meeting with the local business community, which was hosted by the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in the capital on Wednesday. 
Ten years ago it was reported that Russia’s Techsnabexport, Renova and Vneshtorgbank had established a joint venture to produce uranium in Namibia.
Last month, Swakop Uranium, the owner of the N$20 billion Husab Uranium Mine in the Erongo region, said it had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Mines and Energy to set up a nuclear power plant in Namibia, a position confirmed by CEO Keping Zheng during the Mining Expo and Conference.
Trutnev met several Government officials this week and discussed issues of Russian-Namibian cooperation in the sectors of nuclear and solar power, diamond mining, mechanical engineering, aircraft industry, and agriculture with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Relations and Cooperation Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
The Russian Deputy Prime Minister said trade between Namibia and Russia, which was valued at US$24 million in 2016, is too low.
According to the 2016 Bank of Namibia annual report, Namibia’s uranium production increased by 15,5 percent to 4,287 metric tons in 2016, compared to the levels produced in 2015.
The increase was mainly due to low base effects resulting from operational challenges experienced during 2015. Conversely, compared with 2015, international uranium prices declined significantly by 28,4 percent to US$26,31 a pound in 2016.
The central bank said this decrease could mainly be attributed to an oversupply of uranium in the global market.
“Going forward, there are positive prospects of a growing demand for nuclear energy, which is expected to impact favourably on uranium prices,” the central bank said.
Namibia uranium export earnings rose significantly by N$1,1 billion to N$4,6 billion between 2015 and 2016, as a result of higher volumes exported to meet contractual obligations, coupled with a favourable exchange rate environment, the central bank said.
Uranium production is expected t


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