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Husab produces its first uranium. Ramp-up set to boost export revenues

Husab produces its first uranium. Ramp-up set to boost export revenues

Swakop Uranium, the operator of the Husab uranium mine produced its first drum of uranium oxide concentrate less than a month ago at the end of December 2016. The mine is a few months behind schedule as first production was initially scheduled for September last year.

For this year, optimization of the plant will continue and throughput will progressively be ramped up to the target production of 15 million pounds of uranium oxide (U3O8) per year, according to Husab’s Brand Manager, Beata Muteka.

Muketa said that December’s first product is a precursor to commercial production, adding that the mine’s economic contributions will assist with the achievement of the National Agenda and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

The company will be a significant contributor to the national revenue through royalties on sales and corporate taxes. Uranium sales from Husab will boost export revenues and make a significant contribution to the country’s GDP,” she said.

According to her the mine is a catalyst for further economic development of both the country and the region. Already in 2015, when the mine was still in its construction phase, Husab accounted for 11% of the total weight of goods delivered through the port of Walvis Bay.

CEO Zheng Keping said, “We can proudly declare that the Husab mine is in production, bringing new vigour and vitality to the ancient Namib desert. This is the historic moment that we have been striving for, which will be engraved into our own memories, and the annals of the company and the nation.”

Keping said, the first production marks a significant milestone in development of the mine, which began 10 years ago.

Construction of the processing plant was largely completed during the final quarter of 2016, and commissioning started immediately thereafter. Keping stated that the first production marks the successful operation of all sections of the operating chain, including the mine and all stages of the processing plant.

Muketa said that Swakop Uranium benefits from the strong support of China General Nuclear Power Company (CGN), the majority shareholder (90%) as well as a key customer for its output.

CGN has remained steadfast in its desire to see Husab become a reality despite difficult short-term uranium market conditions, and curtailment of projects and retrenchments elsewhere,” she added.

The life of the Husab mine is currently projected at over 20 years, with exploration continuing to define further resources and provide job security and continued economic and social contributions for many years thereafter.

Muketa said that the capital investment in the project to date exceeds US$2 billion and a record total amount of N$191 million has been committed to technical training, in particular for operators and artisans.

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Musa Carter

Musa Carter is a long-standing freelance contributor to the editorial team and also an active reporter. He gathers and verifies factual information regarding stories through interviews, observation and research. For the digital Economist, he promotes targeted content through various social networking sites such as the Economist facebook page (/Nameconomist/) and Twitter.