New Era (Windhoek)
30 January 2008
Posted to the web 30 January 2008
By Charles Tjatindi
Rössing Uranium Limited plans to produce its own electricity amid the current power crisis facing the country.
Rössing wants to convert excess heat produced by a proposed on-site acid plant into electricity. This is in line with phase one of the mining company's 'Life of Mine Expansion' project, which is aimed at extending the life of the mine to 2026.
Plans are in full swing, with the draft social and environmental impact assessments (SEIA) of the project already completed. Sensitisation meetings on the impact of the proposed developments have been held with stakeholders and members of the public.
The mining company estimates that the proposed acid production plant will be able to produce 12 megawatts of electricity at full capacity. Because the plant will only require about four-and-a-half megawatts of electricity to be operational, the mining company plans to divert the excess megawatts for other uses. The excess amount of electricity is bound to be used in other areas of the company's mining activities, which are heavily dependent on electricity for operation. Rössing is adamant that the initiative would reduce the burden placed on the country's sole power supply utility - NamPower.
Other projects that form part of the Life of Mine Expansion Project include an ore sorter, and mining at a new site - referred to as SK4. The results of the first phase of the SEIA produced positive feedback from stakeholders and members of the public, with most of them in favour of the initiative.
However, a few concerns were raised, which include fears of bacteria in the cooling water, noise pollution and vibrations. Noise and vibrations are also the main negative points at the ore sorter, although the mining company hopes that this would be minimised by proposed mitigation measures.
The proposed new mining site is also bound to face challenges from environmental conservationists, as the site for this development is a relatively untouched site. The biggest concerns will be the impact of the mining activities on the endemic animals - mainly insects and on plants. The disposal of waste rock is another potentially problematic factor.
Depending on the outcome of the final SEIA, production at the new mining site could begin as early as April this year. The new mining site will remain in production for at least three years.
The dimensions of the SK4 pit will be 600m by 300m and approximately 140m to 150m deep.
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