SWAKOP Uranium's N$12-billion Husab mine near Swakopmund has started, following the signing in Beijing of the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the project.
The contract was awarded by Swakop Uranium (Pty) Limited to the Husab Project Joint Venture, comprising the international engineering and project management company AMEC, and Tenova Bateman (Sub-Saharan Africa).
AMEC will act as lead on all Husab Project Joint Venture activities and will hold specific responsibility for project management and engineering, with responsibilities for procurement and construction management to be shared with the joint venture partner, Swakop Uranium said in a statement yesterday.
The authority to proceed with construction of the mine is effective from October 18, 2012 and will take approximately 34 months to build, with production expected in the third quarter of 2015.
The Husab ore body near Swakopmund is the highest-grade, granite-hosted uranium deposit in Namibia, and the third largest uranium-only deposit in the world.
Swakop Uranium is developing and constructing the mine, which has the potential to produce 15 million pounds per annum of uranium oxide (U3O8) per annum. This is more than the total current uranium production of Namibia and will elevate the country past Australia, Canada and Niger to the second rung on the world ladder of uranium producers.
Based on the definitive feasibility study for the project, Husab is being developed as a low-risk, conventional, large-scale load-and-haul open pit mine, feeding ore to a conventional agitated acid leach process plant. The mine has a potential life of more than 20 years, with uranium reserves of at least 280 million tonnes.
Swakop Uranium is poised to become a substantial contributor to the Namibian economy and its local communities.
The project will contribute 5% to the Namibian gross domestic product (GDP), 20% to the country's merchandise exports and generate N$1,7 billion per year in government revenue. The project will also create more than 6 000 temporary jobs during construction and about 2 000 permanent operational job opportunities.
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC) gained control of the Husab mine earlier this year after taking over Kalahari Minerals and Extract Resources in a deal worth about US$2,3 billion.
Commodity-hungry China has been ramping up efforts to meet its growing energy needs, with African mineral resources playing an increasingly important role.
"We plan to start construction on the Husab mine around the end of this year and complete construction in three years," Deng Ping, executive deputy director of CGNPC Uranium Resources Co Ltd, told a mining conference in the Chinese city of Tianjin earlier this month. – Additional reporting by Nampa-Reuters