Despite announcing the completion of a feasibility study of a planned desalination plant north of Swakopmund, Rössing Uranium is still in favour of procuring water from Namwater. This was revealed by Managing Director Werner Duvenhage this week during a stakeholder engagement session held in the capital.
When the Economist contacted Areva Namibia, its communications consultant Sugnet Smit said that discussions for the sale of the plant were at an advanced stage. “We are in an advanced stage with the Government Negotiations Team in purchasing the plant. We believe in the Government’s intention to acquire the plant, as it is their ultimate responsibility to ensure bulk water supply.”
Said Duvenhage on the status of Rössing’s 3 million/m3 desalination plant, “the feasibility study for the desalination plant has been completed as well as environmental impact assessment approval. Full approval for the project is still pending.”
In its stakeholder report for 2014, Rössing gives an update on the progress of the desalination plant. “Rössing Uranium initiated a study to develop a desalination plant to supply fresh water to the mine due to the constraints on the supply of aquifer water, as well as the high costs associated with alternative desalination supplies. The last quarter of 2014 saw an environmental impact assessment process completed.”
When Rössing announced the planned construction of its desalination plant through environmental consultants SLR, the original plan of the desalination plant included a seawater intake system and associated infrastructure. The water intake would be located in the vicinity of the existing Swakopmund Salt Works intake.
Rössing investigated two options with regards to infrastructure to transport water to the plant that include either a channel or a pipeline. A seawater receiving tank or one of the existing salt works ponds would serve as a pre-treatment plant that will remove sediments, solids and organic matter. This plant would most likely comprise a Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) system. The main desalination works would consist of a modular Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant with a capacity of approximately 3 million cubic metres per year equating to 8,200 cubic metres per day.
The main plant would be housed together with the post and pre-treatment infrastructure in a designated fenced-off area. Various discharge alternatives are being investigated, including ‘beach disposal’ and ‘sea disposal’ options, within the Mining Licence area of the Swakopmund Salt Works.
A new 11 kilovolt power line of approximately 6 kilometres would need to be constructed, together with a new substation at the plant. A water supply line of roughly 850 metres would connect the plant to the existing NamWater pipeline, transporting desalinated water.
It was envisaged that the construction phase will take approximately twelve to eighteen months to complete.