Rossing investigates feasibility of new desalination plant

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A map showing the location of the proposed desalination plant approximately 6 km north of Swakopmund.

By Staff Reporter

SWAKOPMUND – As a result of low uranium market prices Rössing Uranium is investigating the economic viability of designing, constructing and operating a new desalination plant approximately 6km north of Swakopmund, close to the existing Swakopmund Salt Works. Desalination is a process that purifies water by removing dissolved mineral salts and other solids from brackish or seawater, making it suitable for human consumption.

Currently, Rössing Uranium purchases desalinated water for its mining operations at a significant cost. The Erongo Region is a water scarce environment, relying predominantly on the Omdel aquifer for its supply. Erongo region is also a centre for growth in Namibia and central to the country’s economic vitality. As an interim measure, Rössing Uranium, along with other mines in the region, have been supplied with desalinated water from the Areva desalination plant near Wlotzkasbaken, since November 2013.

According to a Rossing information circular, NamWater has been pursuing the development of a new desalination plant at Mile 6 (roughly 10km North of Swakopmund), but the outcome, timelines and commercial aspects to this project remains uncertain. In addition, an Agreement to secure water on a long-term basis from Areva’s desalination plant at economically feasible terms could also not be reached.

“Therefore, Rössing Uranium wishes to investigate an alternate source for desalinated seawater in an effort to reduce the cost of its mining operations and enhance its commercial sustainability”, states the circular. 

However, prior to the commencement of the proposed activities, an application must be submitted to the Ministry of Environmental and Tourism (MET) and a social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) process must be conducted in terms of the Environmental Management Act. Rossing Uranium has thus appointed SLR Environmental Consulting (Namibia) (Pty) Limited (SLR) and Aurecon Namibia (Pty) Ltd (Aurecon), both independent environmental consulting firms, to manage the SEIA process for the proposed desalination plant.

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