Rössing eases in to restart

20 January 2014

Namibia's Rössing uranium mine is gradually resuming operations after one of two leaching modules returned to service. The mine has been out of action following a leach tank failure late last year.

Rössing operations (Rössing Uranium Ltd)_460
Rössing (Image: Rössing Uranium Ltd)

Rössing Uranium Limited announced that with operations now beginning at a reduced rate, it expects processing plant operations to return to normal during the first quarter of 2014. Nevertheless, the company says it expects the incident to have an impact on its production targets and financial results, and is currently reviewing plans for the year accordingly.

Initial findings suggest that the 3 December 2013 failure of the leach tank - one of 12 at the mine - was due to localised external corrosion, the company reports. The tank has since been removed and other tanks checked. Plans have been put in place to implement "improvement opportunities" identified through expanded processing plant inspections, and lessons learned from the failed tank incident are also being applied broadly in the operation.

The full cost of the restoration work is still being estimated, but the company took the opportunity of the extended shutdown to implement scheduled repairs elsewhere in the plant.

The slurry spilled in the incident was channelled into an existing holding tank, and will ultimately be recycled in the processing plant.

Several days after the Rössing tank rupture, a similar incident occurred at the Ranger uranium mine in Australia. Clean-up and recovery operations are still ongoing, and although not expected to affect 2013 results operator Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) is still assessing the full financial impact of the incident for its 2014 figures.

Although "minor first aid" was administered at the scene of the Rössing incident, neither incident resulted in any injuries nor was there any environmental impact on the surrounding areas.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News