Namibian government poised to table offer for Areva desalination plant
Namibia's government is poised to table an offer to buy Areva's seawater desalination plant at Trekkopje and to use the 20 million m³-a-year facility to supply the country's semi-arid Erongo region.The seawater reverse osmosis plant- Namibia's first - was built by French infrastructure giant, Areva, at a cost of NAD 3 billion (US$ 271 million). It was built to supply Areva's Trekkopje uranium project which has been mothballed since the end of 2012 because of low uranium prices.
The Namibian government decided to acquire wholly the desalination plant rather than construct its own facility and is preparing its bid. "We are busy with technicalities before we make an offer," said permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture, water and forestry, Joseph Iita.
The government may invest further in the plant: "The plant has a provision for expansion and if we buy it, we can expand the capacity," Iita said.
Once acquired the government will hand the plant over to the state-owned water utility, Namibia Water Iita said. "We can't have water in the hands of a private company, it's a resource that's supposed to belong to the government," he added.
The country is the world's fourth-largest uranium producer. The plant is supplying about 10 million m³ of water a year to four uranium mines: Paladin Energy's Langer Heinrich mine, Rio Tinto's Rossing Mine, and China General Nuclear Power's Husab mine.
The water from the plant is sold to Namwater - the only entity allowed to own water distribution infrastructure in the country - for onward distribution to mining companies.
Namibia is running short of water for the coastal towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay as sources in the region including the Omaruru Delta and the Kuiseb River aquifers dwindle.