By Emma Kakololo
Chief Executive Officer of Itochu Corporation, a Japanese trading company that has recently acquired a 20 percent equity holding in the Kudu Gas project, Yoshio Matsukawa, has expressed willingness to develop a new uranium mine in Namibia.
Itochu Corporation is one of Japan’s leading trading companies and is engaged in a wide variety of businesses, including machinery, aerospace, information technology, metals, energy and chemicals.
Speaking to journalists after meeting the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab on Thursday, Matsukawa said: “I would really like to propose something to the Namibian government if they like the proposal.
Maybe we stand a chance.”
He said his idea with the mine was not merely to produce uranium yellow cake for export, as was the case with current mines, but also to source Japan businesses to exchange expertise that would benefit the two countries.
“Japanese companies could come to Namibia and exchange technology. There are many Japanese power countries, maybe we could work with some of them.”
The agreement to acquire a 20 percent interest in Kudu Gas from Tullow Oil plc (Tullow) was reached in June.
The Kudu Gas field is located in a continental shelf, offshore Namibia and it has approximately 1.4 – 4.1 TCF of gas reserves already known.
Matsukawa said should his company find substantial amount of gas, it would like to expand with the production of liquidized natural gas and not only produce gas for domestic use.
LNG is a natural gas that has been cooled to -260F, changing it from a gas to a liquid 1/600th its original volume and offers an energy density comparable to petrol and diesel fuels and produces less pollution. However, its relatively high cost of production and the need to store it in expensive cryogenic tanks have prevented its widespread use in commercial applications.
During the meeting the Speaker expressed his gratitude for the assistance Japan has provided Namibia ever since independence.
“This is good news. I’m happy that Japan has found its own niche in what we are trying to do to develop our country. Gas and uranium are big issues of interest to government as we would like to extend the country’s natural resources,” said Gurirab.
Itochu maintains over 130 offices around the world and owns over 640 subsidiaries and affiliates. Its sales last year reached US$90 billion.