Namibia uranium miners face rise in water price

05 Apr 2014 17:00


Uranium miners in Namibia, already coping with water shortages in the
semi-arid Erongo region, face a steep rise in costs, Paladin Energy
(PDN) Ltd. said.

"When we get it, sometimes we have problems with the quality of the
water and the cost," said Simon Solomons, managing director of
Paladin's Langer Heinrich mine. "At the moment there is no long-term
solution to the water-supply situation."

The mines operated by Paladin, Rio Tinto Plc and China General Nuclear
Power Group rely on water from a 20 million-cubic-meter capacity
desalination plant operated by Areva SA, a French reactor maker. Areva
is in talks to sell a majority stake in the plant to state utility
Namibia Water Corp. after shelving its Trekkopje project in 2012 as
uranium prices slumped in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Namwater has "to look for finance to buy the plant," Solomons said
yesterday during a tour of the Subiaco, Western Australia-based
company's mine. "They will pass on those charges to the uranium

Calls to Namwater weren't immediately answered.

The three mines, which require as much as 10 million cubic meters of
water a year, were previously supplied by the Omaruru Delta aquifer,
which has dwindling volumes as demand from the mines and surrounding
towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay rises.

Langer Heinrich, which consumes 130,000 cubic meters of water a month,
has had "no long-term and no firm discussion" with Namwater over
supplies, Solomons said.

Namibia is the fourth-largest uranium producer after Kazakhstan,
Canada and Australia.-Bloomberg