Namibian emulsion plant opened

25th February 2022

Mines in Namibia can look forward to buying locally manufactured, quality bulk emulsion when provider of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems Orica and Native Storage Facility opens a new ammonium nitrate emulsion (ANE) plant near Walvis Bay.

The new site, Rooikoop, is the first ANE plant outside a mining property in the region. The plant is situated in a strategic location about 25 km from the Port of Walvis Bay and within 5 km radius to several quarries and mines. Owing to the plant’s proximity to the port, this has potential to reduce costs that are associated with logistical requirements, such as import costs.

Namibia has a lot of natural resources, including uranium, rare earths and lithium, which are used in the energy and battery industries. With the plant in a favourable location, compared with other ANE plants across Southern Africa, this plant will be able to supply both the local market, as well as the wider Southern African Development Community region as a whole.

Notably, local mining sites will be able to buy good quality bulk emulsions locally rather than importing them.

An inauguration ceremony took place at the plant in September last year. The ceremony included Namibian Police inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga, who attended on behalf of Safety and Security Minister Dr Albert Kawana, as well as Walvis Bay Mayor Trevino Forbes.

In the keynote address, Ndeitunga hailed the plant as an important step forward for industrialisation and reliance on locally manufactured products.

He urged Namibian companies to follow the example of Native Storage and Orica to form ventures with international companies to manufacture and beneficiate raw materials locally.

The plant has been in the works since 2017, when it was initially conceptualised, with plans being approved in 2019. Construction officially started in February 2020.

However, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project quickly ran into challenges associated with the mobilisation of materials, equipment and people. Orica notes that it has been a “team effort” commissioning the new plant and working with local government to understand restrictions, with the project teams adapting plans and working closely with Orica senior management to address different challenges.

The plant uses Orica’s New Oil Inverse System for Emulsification (NOISE) which is a way of manufacturing ANE formulas. This is the first time NOISE technology has been used in Namibia.

Moreover, the plant was designed with environmental impact in mind, and the construction was able to avoid significant disturbance to the local ecosystem, by using minimal amounts of material.