CHAMWE KAIRA

Rössing Uranium Limited is considering expanding the lifespan of the mine by another 10 years to 2036, Managing Director Johan Coetzee has said in an interview.

Rössing Uranium Limited started production in 1976 and this year celebrated 45 years of production.

“The mine is currently operating on an approved Life of Mine plan to 2026, however the Rössing Board of Directors granted formal approval to commence with a Feasibility Study (FS) to potentially extend the Life of Mine (LoME) from 2026 by another 10 years, in line with its recently approved Mine Licence extension to 2036,” Coetzee said.

He said the approval of the LoME plan will be dependent on an improvement in macro-economic factors, such as the market price of uranium and the Namibian dollar/US dollar exchange rate, as well as finding an economically feasible operating model to sustainably produce uranium at a lower cost.

Coetzee said in addition, the study requires a critical review of the current heavy mining equipment (HME) fleet, as well as the processing plant infrastructure, which have exceeded its recommended operational life and requires significant investment to ensure ongoing safe and efficient operation.

“Rössing has initiated engagement with certain of its key stakeholders and this process of information sharing will continue. An important aspect of the feasibility study is the availability of current market information for benchmarking and modelling purposes to determine the most cost-effective scenario for an extension approval.”

He said Rössing will, through its Procurement Department and in keeping with its established Procurement Policies and Procedures, publish further invitations for Requests for Proposals (RFP) and Expressions of Interest (EOI) from potential future role players.

“The study will be complete by mid-2022 and recommendations will be presented to the Rössing Board for a decision on whether to proceed by the end 2022.”

In the Report to Stakeholders 2020, the company said the year 2020 will go down in history as an unforgettable and challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the whole world. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the world swiftly and badly during the year, it underlined the importance of electricity reliability and resilience during times of major disruption.

In 2020, Rössing produced 5.5 million pounds of uranium oxide. A total of 2 million pounds were shipped to western converters and sold to customers in North America, Asia (excluding China), Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). A total of 4 million pounds, including some production from the 2019 year, were shipped to China, and sold to China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

“Rössing continued to benefit from the contractual sales prices in its historical contract portfolio, as well as the beneficial CNNC off-take agreement, with an average sales price across the entire portfolio well above the average spot price for the year.

*Chamwe Kaira is a freelance journalist, chamwe@gmail.com