Swakop Uranium, one of Namibia’s major uranium producers, is targeting a heap leaching plant to boost uranium production significantly. Heap leaching involves the extraction of valuable minerals, such as gold, copper, or uranium, from low-grade ores
Heap leaching is an efficient and cost-effective method, enabling the extraction of minerals that would be uneconomical to mine using traditional techniques.
The process Involves creating large heaps or piles of crushed ore on a ground-level impermeable pad, often made of plastic or clay. The crushed ore is then distributed over the pad, and a weak solution of cyanide, sulfuric acid, or other appropriate chemicals is sprayed or trickled onto the ore heap.
In a recent statement, Simataa confirmed that the purpose of the heap leach pilot plant tests is to assess the economic viability of processing lower-grade uranium ore. The pilot plant tests are expected to be completed by the end of 2025, and based on the findings, additional investments will be made to expand the project into a commercial heap leach plant if deemed economically feasible.
Construction cost for the Heap Leaching Plant
Swakop Uranium’s Executive Vice President, Irvinne Simataa, disclosed that the mining company is anticipating a total expenditure of N$290 million for the construction of a pilot heap leach plant. According to him, Swakop Uranium has already made significant investments in the form of over N$6.5 billion for stripping costs related to the development of its open pit pushbacks. Additionally, the company has allocated N$81 million towards equipment acquisition and resource development projects.
He emphasized that the Investments”in the pit expansions and heap leach pilot plant are crucial for securing ore reserves for future processing and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the mine
Simataa also mentioned that Swakop Uranium anticipates that Heap Leaching Plant is supposed to Boost Uranium Production to meet or surpass budget production guidance. The company is confident in achieving and exceeding benchmark asset reliabilities to maintain its current performance.
He emphasized that the focus lies on cost prudence, particularly in areas such as water and electricity usage, unplanned maintenance, and implementing measures to mitigate water supply challenges usually faced in the second half of the year. Additionally, successful execution of multi-million-dollar maintenance plans for both plant and mining equipment is crucial to sustaining their production performance.
According to him, achieving this performance is a remarkable accomplishment for Swakop Uranium, and their primary focus is on sustaining it for the foreseeable future to continue learning and enhancing their performance.
Swakop Uranium is a mining company registered in Namibia and is jointly owned by the Namibian government through Epangelo Mining, as well as the Chinese government through the China General Nuclear Power Corporation and the China-Africa Development Fund.