Namibia nears deal on Areva desalination plant

The Namibian government has claimed to be close to completing its acquisition of a N$ 3 billion (US$ 220 million) desalination plant owned by French engineering giant, Areva. Negotiations over the deal started in 2014. Local newspapers have reported that both parties were expected to conclude their offers by the end of this month.

Minister of agriculture, water and forestry, John Mutorwa, said the government was expecting to receive “the final report on the matter from the government negotiating team… during the course of November for final consideration.”

A spokeswoman for Areva Resources Namibia told local press the company, “looks forward to concluding the negotiations with government.” She declined to reveal the price the company was asking for the plant saying; “It’s too sensitive to mention costs.”

The plant at Wlotzkasbaken - about 30km north of Swakopmund - serves the industrial Erongo coastal region including the Husab and Rössing uranium mines. The government is drawing up plans to improve water suppliers to the towns and industrial users in the region. If it buys the 20 Gl-a-year plant, both mines would continue to be supplied – the Erongo region’s annual demand is some 11 Gl a year.

The desalination plant was built to supply potable water to the Trekkopje uranium mine but a post-Fukushima slump in uranium prices and demand forced Areva to rein in the project in 2011

Meanwhile the government has imposed strict measures to counter increasingly acute water shortages in the region. The central coastal towns and businesses in Erongo are been supplied with water from the Kuiseb and Omdel aquifers but the aquifer volumes have fallen substantially.