Namibia Expands Uranium Mines as Diamonds Lose Shine

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Namibia, stung by the collapse of the diamond industry two years ago, is trying to diversify its $8.2 billion economy by exploiting uranium deposits that are the second-biggest in Africa.

Namibia’s economy contracted 0.8 percent last year, after expanding 4.3 percent a year earlier, as mining output halved. Diamond production plunged to 929,006 carats from 2.22 million carats a year earlier

Namibian output may quadruple by 2015 as new mines are opened by companies including Extract Resources Ltd., more than doubling uranium’s contribution to the economy, according to IHN. The industry accounted for 5.6 percent of Namibia’s gross domestic product last year.

If the uranium industry increases by four times then it would be equal to 22.4% of the 2009 GDP.

Uranium companies are planning to spend more than $3 billion starting operations in Namibia
Existing operations, generally, are “only just” profitable at current price levels
RBC Capital Markets cut its 2010 uranium forecast by 11 percent to $44.50 a pound from $50 last month as supplies increase, and said the metal may trade at $55 a pound next year and $75 a pound in 2012

Rio Tinto’s is expanding the world’s third-largest uranium mine, Rossing.

Extract Resources plans to build the world’s second- largest uranium mine in South Rossing (6800 tons/year starting in 2013)

Areva is constructing the $750 million Trekkopje mine (3200 tons/year).

Bannerman Resources Ltd., based in Leaderville, Australia, is studying a $555 million mine east of the coastal town of Swakopmund.

Korea Resources Corp., a state-run resources developer, reached an initial agreement with Namibia to cooperate on mining projects

Rosatom is planning to invest one billion dollars in developing Namibia uranium mines.
Epangelo is a Namibian national uranium company that will joint venture with foreign companies.

Trekkopje will be ramping towards an annualized rate of 3200 tons per year starting mid-2010 So perhaps 800 tons in 2010 and 1500 tons in 2011 from Trekkopje and 3200 tons per year in 2012.

French nuclear giant Areva, through its subsidiaries, Areva Resources Namibia and Areva Processing Namibia, is developing the world’s first uranium mine to make use of an alkaline heap-leach process.

A desalination plant was started in April, 2010 to support the fresh water needs of the Trekkopje mine.

The 55 000-m³/d Trekkopje seawater desalination plant, near Swakopmund, in Namibia was started in early April. The plant’s modular design would allow for its expansion to meet future domestic, commercial and industrial needs for the Southern African country, which was classified as being 98% arid or semi-arid. The Trekkopje mine requires about 14-million cubic metres a year of fresh water to operate. The produce 20-million cubic metres a day of treated water, with about 40% of the seawater being converted into treated water and the remaining 60% returned to the Atlantic Ocean.

World nuclear association article on uranium in Namibia

Other African Mining News

Older Zambian copper mines are at risk starting in 2013 because of new electricity tariffs.

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