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China’s biggest single investment in Africa — the Husab Uranium Mine in Namibia that is worth two billion U.S. dollars — is on course to start operations by the end of this year.

Mining
Husab is in the Namib Desert about 60 km from the coastal town of Swakopmund in the western-central part of the country.
Established by the Australian company, Extract Resources in 2006, the mine was acquired by the Chinese company, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC) Uranium Resources and its partner the China-Africa Development Fund through its subsidiary Taurus Minerals Limited, in 2012.
Taurus has 100 percent shares in Swakop Uranium, which is partnership with the government of Namibia.
As per Namibian laws, Taurus Minerals has a 90 percent stake while the state through its holding minerals holding company, Epangelo holds 10 percent.
Construction of the mine started in November 2012, while mining operations went underway last year in March, with ore mining commencing in May.
According to Percy McCallum, the spokesman for CGNPC’s Namibia, the target is to stockpile about a million ton of ore by December.

Currently, there are 16 different companies working under contract at the site where sand is being mined.
When Husab becomes operational, it will be the second largest uranium mine in the world with an output estimated to be 15 million pounds (6,800 tons) of uranium oxide annually, more than what is currently being produced in Namibia.
The granite-hosted uranium deposit ore at Husab is said to be of the highest-grade and one of the most significant discoveries in recent times.
In 2012, Swakop Uranium chief executive officer Norman Green said the Husab project has a simpler mineralogy than Namibia’s other uranium mine, Rssing.
“The Husab Project indeed has what could be called the Big Five every explorer wishes to find, namely grade, depth, metallurgy, location and size. While the mineralogy appears to be simpler than that at Rssing, with less marble, this deposit has remained hidden from previous discoveries due to a two to three metre cover of gravel,” he said.
Green also said Swakop Uranium has since February 2008, completed more than 700,000 metres (or 700 km) of combined reverse circulation and diamond core drilling from April 2006, when the drilling programme started.
He said according to a socio economic study done on the Husab Project and the uranium rush, eight to 10 spin-off jobs will be created with each permanent employee, which means that up to 12, 000 permanent jobs will be created by, and as a result of, the Husab Project.
In May last year during the groundbreaking ceremony that was attended by Namibia’s leader, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, CGNPC chairman Wang Yiren said Husab mine will guarantee the natural uranium demand of 20 million kilo-watt nuclear units for nearly 40 years..
It is estimated that Husab mine will chew up 60 billion Namibian dollars (53 billion U.S. dollars) when it is completed.
Husab is expected to have an annual turnover of about one billion U.S. dollars and will contribute five percent Namibia’s state coffers.
The mine is also expected to increase the country’s exports value by 20 percent, which is about 1.7 billion Namibian dollars (145 million U.S. dollars) to government’s revenue annually.
More than 6, 000 temporary jobs were created during the construction phase, while more than 1,600 permanent jobs. This is about an increase of 17 percent in employment in the mining sector.

A contractors’ ‘village’ that will accommodate 4,000 people was constructed nearby at a cost of about 450 million Namibian dollars(40 million U.S. dollars) over a period of two years.
When he officiated at the ground-breaking ceremony last year, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the development and opening of the mine shows how Namibia remains an attractive destination for foreign direct investment because of political stability and the macro-economic policies adopted and pursued by the government.
He said such investments also contribute to the country’s development objectives such as the sustainable utilisation of natural resources, job creation and facilitating skills transfer.
“Uranium is one of the natural resources that can contribute significantly to the social and economic development of our country. In order to attract more foreign investments, our 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 Pohamba.
The mine’s chief executive officer, Zheng Keping, said recently they were well on track for going operational by end of the year.
Keping said by the end of the year, they will reach open ore and by January, they will start mining yellow cake uranium.
He also said so far 10 million man hours have been worked at the mine and that 94 percent of the engineering designs have been completed.
“We spent 50 percent of the 20 billion Namibian dollars (1.8 billion U.S. dollars) budget on advanced technology and equipment imported for the construction process in which local resources were utilised,” Keping told the media.
The senior vice president for mining operations, Deon Garbers, said the first blasting took place in March 2014, while the commissioning of the processing plant is expected to be done in the last quarter of 2015.
“The mine needs 50 megawatts electricity, of which some will be externally sourced from NamPower. Acid production generates steam and this will be used to generate 10 megawatts electricity at a substation, which is due to be completed at the end of April,” Garbers explained.
There are 4,000 workers on site, and only 600 of them are involved with actual mining activities. A further 600 will be brought in once actual mining starts.
“A total of 10 percent of the workforce working on the construction site is female. Workers and residents committees ensure that order prevails and no incidents have been recorded.
“The village will be dismantled in the beginning of 2016, once the construction phase of mine is completed and production begins, to prevent the establishment of a migrant town at the mine,” McCallum said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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