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Namibia’s current capacity unpacked - Institute

A large openpit uranium mine in Namibia with mine trucks moving ore to the processing facility

DEEPLY INGRAINED The Namibian Uranium Institute says an increased openness to use nuclear power as a green energy source has seen uranium prices increase substantially

24th February 2023

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer

     

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The Namibian uranium sector is not only recovering from a global slump but is also, in fact, growing, owing to uranium prices improving amid positive supply and demand fundamentals, says Namibian Uranium Institute (NUI) executive director Dr Gabi Schneider.

“Besides a few ebbs and flows over the past decade, the industry has experienced an increase of about 191% since the post-Fukushima low of $18.00 in October 2016.”

The Rössing uranium mine is the largest and longest operating uranium opencast mine globally, with production amounting to 2 659 t uranium oxide (U3O8) in 2022.

A feasibility study to extend the life-of-mine beyond 2026 is under way, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) has extended the mining licence to 2036, she adds.

Swakop Uranium’s Husab mine, meanwhile, has a designed yearly mining capacity of more than 100-million tons at full production, with a yearly output of 6 000 t U3O8.

Its total uranium production in 2022 was 3 960 t of U3O8, extracted from just over 97-million tons of ore mined.

The Langer Heinrich mine, which is being taken out of care and maintenance, will, at full capacity, produce enough uranium to supply more than ten 1 000 MW nuclear power plants a year.

Schneider says Bannerman Energy confirmed the strong technical and economic viability of a conventional openpit mining on its Etango-8 uranium mine, for which a mining licence application had been submitted.

Further, a positive prefeasibility study for Reptile Mineral Resources and Exploration’s Tumas project was completed in 2021, followed by the start of a definitive feasibility study (DFS), which is due for completion early this year.

“The MME has informed the company of its preparedness to grant a mining licence on the condition of receiving environmental clearance,” she adds.

Elevate Uranium, the largest uranium exploration tenement holder in Namibia, has mineral resources of 37-million kilogrammes of U3O8 – in compliance with Joint Ore Reserve Committee codes – at its Koppies, Hirabeb, Marenica and Namib IV uranium projects.

The company also developed and owns the U-pgrade beneficiation process, which is potentially an industry-leading and economically transformational beneficiation process for upgrading surficial low grade uranium ores.

Canada-headquartered miner Forsys, meanwhile, has a DFS and a mining licence in place for its Valencia uranium deposit and is, therefore, construction-ready once the uranium price reaches the required level.

“The Valencia deposit, with the neighbouring Namibplaas uranium deposit, are known as the Norasa project,” Schneider says.

Further, core drilling of more than 39 000 m was done on the licences of Headspring Investments, in the south of the country, where the company is looking for in situ leaching opportunities.

“In addition, there are several new exploration companies that have taken over nuclear-fuel exclusive prospecting licences in Namibia, where they are busy with exploration,” she concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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