Former president of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia (CMN) and Managing Director of Rössing Uranium, Werner Duvenhage, has called on government to urgently resolve operational and technical issues at TransNamib to avoid jeopardising much desired value addition and industrialisation within the mining industry.
“Unfortunately, the transport parastatal, TransNamib, is challenged to efficiently transport bulk mining cargo such as acid, thereby forcing mining companies and other chamber members to reluctantly use road transport as a last resort,” said Duvenhage during the CMN’s annual general meeting in Windhoek earlier this week.
Duvenhage was specifically referring to the transportation of sulphuric acid from Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb (DPMT), which owns Namibia’s copper smelter and is constructing a N$2.9 billion sulphuric acid plant.
The plant, which is scheduled to come into production in July 2015, will utilise off-gases from the copper smelter to produce 340 000 tonnes of sulphuric acid per annum.
All the planned acid production is already committed to with off-take agreements with Rössing Uranium and Tschudi copper mine for the leaching processes.
“This is a clear testimony that when mining grows, the upstream input and services sector also grows, thereby creating spin-offs in other sectors of the economy,” remarked Duvenhage.
Last weekend an incident in South Africa highlighted the danger of transporting hazardous materials by road when a truck containing 28 000 litres of sulphuric acid overturned, spilling the highly toxic substance into the Nyl river.
According to the South African government the river is now polluted to the extent that fish have died, farmers can’t irrigate their fields and have been forced to move their livestock.
SA government experts neutralised the acidic water with lime. Water with a pH level of seven and below is considered acidic, which is potentially toxic for aquatic life.
Meanwhile, Duvenhage noted that the mining industry’s Joint Value Addition Committee (VAC), under the leadership of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, made tremendous progress during 2014. The CMN is an active member of VAC.
According to Duvenhage the VAC contracted independent consultants from Sweden to conduct an in-depth analysis of beneficiation opportunities for Namibia’s minerals. He explained that phase one of the study covered seven commodities, namely, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, lead, zinc and uranium.
The report was presented and deliberated on at a workshop in August 2014 while a second report was produced by the same consultants, covering additional minerals including dimension stone, graphite, silica sand, salt, phosphate, fluorspar and manganese.
“The chamber is confident that the VAC process will ultimately lead to a clear road map for further value addition to our mineral production. A mineral beneficiation strategy is the expected final deliverable in line with NDP4 outcomes,” said Duvenhage.
At the time of going to print TransNamib had not responded to questions sent by New Era.