AREVA Resources Namibia: more than just mining
The AREVA group is present in Namibia through its subsidiary AREVA Resources Namibia, which is working in the region of Swakopmund.
This subsidiary was in the process of developing the Trekkopje mining project, located 70 km northeast of Swakopmund in the desert region of Erongo, until 2013. However, owing to the downward trend in uranium prices, AREVA postponed the start-up of mining and mothballed all the installations there at that time.
The Trekkopje mine: an industrial challenge
Trekkopje is a shallow, high-tonnage, low-grade, calcrete surface deposit. The principal mineralization extends over an area approximately 14 km long and 3 km wide. It will be exploited with an open-pit mine.
Owing to the very low grade of the ore and the method used to process it, exploiting this deposit presents a technical challenge. As a result, the mining operations there will be unique in the world.
The overburden will be stripped and the deposit mined in the conventional way, with explosives, removal of the ore with shovels, and transport by truck to the first crusher plant. The ore will then undergo an alkaline heap leaching process.
The project began with a pilot phase, called MIDI. The first uranium concentrate (SDU) from the Trekkopje deposit was produced in January 2011. During this pilot phase, which ended in mid-2013, almost 435 tons of SDU were produced, confirming the technical aspects of this large-scale alkaline leaching operation.
The installations for the full-scale production phase, called MAXI, were mothballed in 2013. AREVA will regularly reassess the economics of the project so that mining can begin as soon as conditions in the uranium market permit. Meanwhile, an extensive care and maintenance program has been put in place at the site so that the project can be restarted under optimal conditions. This program, which is costing $10 million annually, is staffed by about 40 employees, 98% of whom are Namibian.
The desalination plant
AREVA Resources Namibia has built the first seawater desalination plant in southern Africa. Located at Wlotzkasbaken, 30 km north of Swakopmund, it will supply all the water that will be consumed at the Trekkopje mine, located about 40 km from there in the desert. By eliminating the need to pump water from the aquifers, AREVA is preserving the country’s groundwater reserves.
Inaugurated on April 16, 2010, the plant will produce 20 million cu. meters of potable water a year, an achievement made possible by the use of state-of-the-art technologies, including rotary filters, multi-stage ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and chemical treatment.
The surplus potable water produced by the plant (about 8 million cu. meters) will be available for domestic and industrial uses in the Erongo region.
The Erongo desalination plant will continue in operation during the care and maintenance program. Part of the water produced will be sold to the national water distribution company, NamWater, to supply drinking water to local industries in the Erongo region.
AREVA Resources Namibia and local communities
At the end of 2013, AREVA Resources Namibia was employing about 50 people directly and about 50 indirectly (suppliers and subcontractors).
AREVA Resources Namibia is working with local communities in the Erongo region (Swakopmund, Arandis and Spitzkkope) in multiple societal projects in the areas of education, health, economic development, and athletics sponsorship.
While the start-up of mining is delayed, AREVA will maintain its presence in Namibia and continue its involvement with the Namibian people.
AREVA Resources Namibia
PO Box 585
+ 264 64 415 720
+ 264 81 129 88 15