Namibian uranium mine ponders desalination project

Namibian uranium mining firm Rössing Uranium is investigating the economic viability of designing, constructing and operating a new desalination plant to supply its operation in the economically important Erongo Region where water is scarce.

“Rössing Uranium wishes to investigate an alternate source for desalinated seawater in an effort to reduce the cost of its mining operations and enhance its commercial sustainability”, the company said in a statement. The mining firm said its water costs were currently excessive.

Rössing is looking to build the plant at a site north of Swakopmund close to a proposed desalination facility planned by the state owned water firm NamWater. According to Rössing its plan to build its own desalination plant emerged because the outcome, timelines and commercial aspects of the NamWater project were uncertain. And it said it had failed to agree long-term water supplies at economically feasible terms with an Areva desalination plant which has supplied Rössing on an interim basis since November 2013.

Prior to going ahead with the new plant Rössing must submit an application to the Ministry of Environmental and Tourism and and go through a social, environmental impact assessment (SEIA). It has appointed independent environmental consulting firms, Rossing Uranium has appointed SLR Environmental Consulting (Namibia) and Aurecon Namibia, to manage the SEIA process.