On Monday, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein, with his ministerial delegation, visited the Erongo Desalination Plant, where he was taken through the intricacies of their operations.
The minister and his delegation were accompanied by representatives from NamWater, Orano Mining and Nafasi Water, who are the main operators at the plant.
At the site, the minister said he was happy that Namibia is taking the step and decision to tap more into constructing its own plant, which he said is crucial for the prompt development of the west coast.
"Water is very crucial in people lives, and the demand will increase in the near future for the region. We need this expertise and I will be happy to see young Namibians taking up subjects that are crucial in managing plants," he said.
The Erongo Desalination Plant has produced over 60 million cubic meters of potable water since 2013. The plant's capacity has been upgraded over the last few years so that it can now deliver over 2000 m3 per hour.
Tommie Gouws MD of Orano Mining said they implemented a care and maintenance programme at Trekkopje mine as planned, while the Erongo Desalination Plant continued to augment NamWater's supply to meet the demand of the uranium mines and other users in the coastal area.
Coastal water users only experienced supply constraints during times of red tides and sulphur eruptions when desalination had to be suspended to protect the ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis membranes.
According to Orano Mining, the last of these events occurred in February 2020 and is quite evident in the resultant turquoise colour caused by elemental sulphur.
"Excluding these occasional interruptions, we are confident that the Erongo Desalination Plant will be able to meet the water demand of industrial consumers in the Erongo region for the medium to long-term," said Gouws.
CEO of Nafasi Water Suzie Nkambule said her company focuses on integrated solutions to manage water security risk.
"In water-scarce regions, we provide solutions for alternative water sources that are reliable and of high quality. Whether it is desalinating seawater, or the direct reuse of industrial or domestic wastewater, we can provide turnkey fully financed solutions where needed," she noted.
Nkambule added that Nafasi Water is committed to delivering solutions that support sustainable primary and secondary industries. Mine water management sustainability is a core part of their business, and related products and services have given miners in southern Africa the ability to actively mitigate and improve their environmental impact felt by the communities they operate.
She stated that as part of their corporate responsibility, Nafasi aims to invest in education to encourage Namibians to get involved in plant management.