Emerging Namibia-based miner Swakop Uranium officially broke ground on its $2.5-billion Husab project, the world’s third-largest uranium-only deposit, during an onsite groundbreaking ceremony near Swakopmund, Namibia, last month.
Swakop Uranium CEO Zheng Keping told industry stakeholders and government officials who attended the event that the Husab project was regarded as the most important uranium discovery in recent years.
He further emphasised that Swakop Uranium is well positioned to develop and construct the world’s third-largest uranium mine, which had the potential to produce 6 800 t of uranium oxide a year, more than Namibia’s current total uranium production output.
“This will elevate Namibia past Niger, Australia and Canada to the second rung on the world ladder of uranium producers. The project’s 8 km uranium mineralisation has been confirmed as the highest-grade granite-hosted uranium deposit in Namibia and one of the world’s most significant discoveries in decades,” added Zheng.
He said the development in Namibia had been fully supported by an enabling investment environment and well managed by the Namibian government, which “is regarded internationally as responsible, stable and predictable, where a sound infrastructure supports the development of a project of this magnitude”, said Zheng.
In the keynote address, Nambia’s Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali congratulated Swakop Uranium’s majority shareholder, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), on this investment, which would assist the growth and development of Namibia through job creation, export earnings and increased taxes.
“We will continue to modernise our key policies and incentives regimes in the mining and other sectors to promote regional and international competitiveness,” he said, further emphasising the need to make Namibia a more attractive destination for investors.
“This is a vital component of our strategies to empower our people economically and combat poverty and unemployment.”
Katali stated that mineral resources had consistently accounted for more than 10% of Namibia’s gross domestic product and for more than 40% of Namibia’s export earnings, adding that the Husab mine would create 2 000 permanent jobs and up to 6 000 temporary jobs during the construction phase.
“We expect to create more than 8 000 indirect jobs in related service industries and for this project to make Namibia the second-largest uranium producer in the world, which is significant,” he said.
Meanwhile, CGNPC senior VP Zheng Dongshan said that the Husab project marked a new starting point in terms of its partnership with Swakop Uranium, furthering CGNPC’s endeavour to develop international cooperation and engagement.
“We will work closely with our partners in a spirit of solidarity and collaboration to ensure the safe construction and operation of the Husab project. “We will also strive to turn Swakop Uranium into a world-class uranium producer and contribute to the socioeconomic development of our respective countries,” he said.
The Husab project is currently one of the largest-known resource-drilling projects worldwide, with Swakop Uranium having completed more than 800 km of combined reverse-circulation and diamond core drilling since the drilling programme started in April 2006.
Based on the definitive feasibility study for the project, Husab is being developed as a low-risk, conventional, large-scale load-and-haul openpit mine, feeding ore to a conventional agitated acid leach process plant. The mine has a potential life of more than 20 years, with uranium resources of at least 280 000 t.
The forecast ore grade at Zones 1 and 2 is 518 parts per million, while the total ore resource is more than 242 000 tonnes.
The Husab mine should take roughly three years to build, which means that commissioning activities will start in the third quarter of 2015.