Areva confident of selling water plant
Areva Resources Namibia is confident enough that the deal involving the sale of its Erongo Desalination Plant will go through. Whether Areva will get back the US$200 million initially invested is a different matter all together, with the government said to have made a counter offer.
The Economist earlier this week visited the plant which has in the recent past made for interesting news ever since its planned sale to the government was announced. Addressing a packed board room, Areva Namibia Resources Managing Director Hilifa Mbako wasted no time as he moved to set the record straight on what the progress of the sale was, its ownership and current use.
“At this point, discussions are still on-going with the government to sell the plant. We have set our price and are only interested in cost recovery, which equates to an investment of US$200 million.”
Mbako pointed out that Areva’s underlying principle was cost recovery but indicated that the exact price at which Areva offered the plant to the government, remains confidential. He did mention that the government was set to make a counter offer on the price while the President, H.E Dr. Hage Geingob recently announced that he would take a decision on the purchase of the plant soon.
“At the request of the government, Areva has made an offer to the government to purchase the plant. We are currently discussing a potential transaction with them (government) and we are confident that these discussions will have a positive outcome” said Mbako.
He emphasised that Areva is the sole owner of the plant when asked about United Africa Group (UAG) earlier claim that it has bought a stake in the desalination plant. Meanwhile an Areva employee jokingly told the Economist on the sidelines that UAG is a swear word in Areva circles.
Reflecting on the matter involving its Trekkopje Mine which is currently under care and maintenance, Mbako said that Areva had no plans to off-load its mine and said that it was looking at the uranium market, which he said is showing signs of recovery.
While Areva may own the plant, the operational responsibility has been given to Aveng Water Africa. Its General Manager, Suzie Nkambule jetted in and indicated that Aveng was open to working with the ultimate owners of the plant.
Said Nkambule, “we are fully aligned to the process and we are looking to see how the sale of the plant proceeds. We are willing to play a key role in the future of the plant and have a keen interest to match and find solutions with the state.”
Africa Mining Intelligence, a credible source on African mining ventures, estimates that Areva has lost more than one billion dollar in Namibia, however, it pointed out that expectations are for an improvement in the uranium price through 2017, which should bode well for Areva’s intention to revive its uranium mining operation.