Power and water remain challenge for mining sector

26 Apr 2016 19:30pm
WINDHOEK, 26 APR (NAMPA) – Local mines with embedded generation capacity have approached NamPower to avail such power to the national grid.
President of the Namibia Chamber of Mines Kombadayedu Kapwanga said this during the 37th annual general meeting (AGM) of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia here on Tuesday.
He said there is currently a total of 67megwatts (MW) embedded generation capacity and 38 MW planned solar PV plants and wind turbines of some chamber members, making a 105MW contribution by the mining industry.
“We call upon NamPower to seize this opportunity and synchronise these embedded units to the national grid. This will contribute towards conserving the base load from NamPower,” said Kapwanga.
He said this in reference to ongoing power and water concerns for the mining industry in Namibia, saying mines need uninterrupted supplies of both utilities.
Kapwanga said the chamber is aware that Namibia imports about 60 per cent of its energy requirements from neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique through power purchasing agreements (PPPs).
He said that although these PPPs are still in place, these countries face severe energy deficits of their own, most notably Zambia and Zimbabwe, thus threatening the security of Namibia’s power supply.
“The recent commitment made by Government to increase the inclusion of private role players in the power generation sector is welcomed by the chamber, as it will reduce Namibia's dependence on imported electricity.”
On their water challenges, the Navachab gold mine, which sources its water from the central region, has been suffering due to the water crisis in this region.
Kapwanga noted that the Rössing mine completed a feasibility study to construct its own desalination plant, which would alleviate pressure on the national utility (NamWater), and other mines in the vicinity have expressed interest to participate in this project.
He explained that the government has not shown support on this project, showing reluctance to grant the necessary clearances and approvals to facilitate the construction of this facility.
“All the mines in the central coastal area have been forced to use desalinated water supplied by NamWater since 2013 at significant costs, whilst negotiations continue by government to acquire the existing desalination plant,” Kapwanga said.