Uranium Industry Set for Boom Times

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Companies in Europe and America have shown interest in buying uranium to be mined at the Langer Heinrich uranium mine, with production and shipment expected in February 2007. The mine is targeting electrical companies that utilise uranium fuel in their reactors. Due to problems of power generation worldwide in the past 15 to 20 years, the world is re-looking to uranium, which has made the mineral’s prices to soar to an all time high, with the spot price in June being US$45 per pound of uranium oxide. This is the best price the mineral has fetched in 26 years. Langer Heinrich, situated some 85 km south-east of Swakopmund, is Namibia’s second uranium mine after RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing, which plans to produce 1180 tonnes of uranium oxide per year. Mine manager Wyatt Buck told New Era yesterday that commissioning of the processing plant will start on September 22, when the mine will test equipment, check tanks for proper filling and also pipes, joints and electrical equipment, with the actual processing plant to start later December. Mining operations, which include clearing and storing of topsoil for reclamation and stockpiling, will however start as early as next month (August). When Langer Heinrich and the third mine Trekkopje in Arandis start production, Namibia will not only be the leading producer of uranium in Africa but also the world’s seventh largest uranium producer. Namibia now ranks number two after Niger, which produces nine percent of the world’s uranium, followed by South Africa, with a production of two percent. Buck said between 10 and 15 percent of the world’s yearly production would be of Namibian origin, which marks a significant achievement for the country. So far, the mine will employ around 110 people with an additional 100 to be employed directly on site by the mining contractor Karibib Mining and by other local contract firms such as security and cleaning services. According to Buck, the operation time at the mine at present has been put at 17 years, but the mine feels that this will be extended as a significant amount of exploration drilling is yet to be completed. In July 2005, the Ministry of Mines and Energy in Namibia granted a mining license to LHUPL for a 25-year (renewable) term. Namibia has several uranium deposits, some of which are Trekkopje, Klein Trekkopje, Engo Valley, Valencia, Klein Spitzkoppe, RÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶ssing and Langer Heinrich.

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