Mining operations begin at Husab

09 May 2014

A ceremony has been held to mark the official start of mining operations at the Husab project in Namibia. The project is majority owned by China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and is set to make Namibia one of the world's largest uranium suppliers.

Husab - January 2014 - 460 (Swakop)
An aerial photo of the Husab project taken in January 2014 (Image: Swakop)

The ceremony was attended by various dignitaries, including Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba, China's ambassador to Namibia Xin Shun Kang, and CGN chairman Ho Yu. During the ceremony, the first heavy-duty mining equipment at Husab was started up.

The Husab project received a mining licence from Namibia's Ministry of Mines and Energy in November 2012 and a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site in the Namib Desert the following April. The first blasting of rock took place earlier this year. Construction of the mine is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015, with production then planned to ramp up to 5770 tonnes of uranium per year by 2017.

The operation will be an open pit mine with an acid leach process plant on site. The Husab ore-body is claimed to be the third largest uranium-only deposit in the world. With measured and indicated reserves of about 140,000 tonnes U, Husab is expected to operate for at least 20 years. The mine will comprise of two pits: the Zone 1 pit will be some 3km long, 1km wide and 412m deep; the Zone 2 pit will be about 2km long, 1.3 km wide and 377m deep.

Husab is majority owned by CGN subsidiary Taurus Minerals following its 2012 purchase of former owner Extract Resources. The project is being developed by Extract subsidiary Swakop Uranium, in which Namibian state-owned mining company Epangelo acquired a 10% stake in November 2012.

According to CGN, the Husab mine has sufficient reserves to supply enough uranium to power 20 GWe of nuclear capacity for almost 40 years.

CGN currently has a fleet of ten operating nuclear power reactors with a totalled installed capacity of 10.5 GWe. It has a further 14 units under construction with a combined capacity of 16.6 GWe.

Husab becomes the fourth uranium mine in operation in Namibia, the others being Rössing, Langer Heinrich and Trekkopje. China National Nuclear Corporation holds a 25% stake in Paladin's Langer Heinrich mine, entitling it to a corresponding share of the project's output.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News