Electricity supply to Husab mine remains a concern

22 Jun 2015 11:50am
RÖSSING, 22 JUN (NAMPA) – Minister of Mines and Energy Obed Kandjoze is concerned about the as yet uncertain power supply situation for Swakop Uranium’s Husab mine, which has to start operating next year.
Urgent measures are needed to ensure that there is adequate electricity supply for the mine, which is currently under construction. What will be the country’s biggest uranium mine, currently consumes 10 Megawatts (MW) which will increase to 50MW once it starts operating.
Should the supply of power which will be determined by the introduction of a new power plant fail before 2016, operations at Husab might be delayed.
“I remain concerned about our ability to supply power to Husab mine and all other mines in the country. Without electricity these developments cannot function.
“There has to be some quick action to ensure that we are able to provide electricity,” Kandjoze said during an interview with Nampa at the Rössing Uranium mine on Friday.
The minister was giving a round-up of his familiarisation visit to the mines in the Erongo Region.
Meanwhile, Government has halted the construction of a gas-powered electricity project at Walvis Bay by Xaris Energy to explore better ways to meet the country’s power demand.
The costs of developing the plant escalated from N.dollars 3 billion to N.dollars 8 billion, which Kandjoze earlier said is too high for a project of that nature.
The minister noted that Government is prioritising the establishment of the Kudu Gas to Power project in the //Karas Region in an effort to boost the country’s power supply and avoid a power crisis.
On Friday, he reiterated the need for urgent action such as the establishment of the Kudu project and the use of other power generation methods such as solar and wind power before 2016.
The minister also expressed his disappointment regarding the slow construction of the processing plant at Husab.
“More work needs to be done on a processing plant as there is lack of human capacity. However, Government will continue to monitor and support this development so that it can be completed and start operating next year,” he told this news agency.
He further indicated that Swakop Uranium needs to rebalance future procurement at Husab in order to meet Government expectations on matters such as employment creation, skills training for local people and poverty reduction.
“Erongo has massive development projects worth about N.dollars 30 billion, for instance the upgrading of the Port of Walvis Bay and Husab mine.
“These investments of which our Government is part need to create an enormous number of employment opportunities for our people,” the minister said.
Kandjoze also raised concern about labour issues in the mining industry which he said need to be addressed.
These include issues such as work stoppage and demonstrations at mines by employees who are unhappy that foreigners are employed to do work which can be done by Namibians; and who want increased wages and better benefits.
“These issues have been appearing for quite some time now and could be a serious problem if not addressed,” he warned.