45 years of production

A lasting legacy for Namibia

This year, Rössing Uranium will celebrate 45 years of production — indeed a proud milestone for Rössing Uranium. True to our slogan ‘Working for Namibia’, we have made an enormous contribution to the socioeconomic development of Namibia during this period. We are proud that we could make a difference in the lives of our employees, the neighbouring communities and Namibians across the country. Here are just some of the ways we are making a difference.

The early years

1928 - 1965: The pioneering stage, when the original prospectors found signs of mineralisation.

1966 - 1971: The exploration stage, when basic prospecting was done and the feasibility of establishing a mine was recognised.

1972 - 1976: The development stage, when the construction of the mine took place.

July 1974: Construction of the mine started with the pouring of concrete for the large mine workshops. During the next two years, construction teams poured 30,000 cubic metres of concrete, erected 2,200 tonnes of steel plate and installed 15,000 tonnes of mechanical equipment in an isolated spot in the Namib Desert, bringing Rössing Uranium mine into existence.

1974-1976: The initial pit development was done; the pilot plant constructed; temporary and permanent water supplies laid on and the power line destined for Walvis Bay diverted and strengthened to link up with the mine. Arandis took root and in Swakopmund, houses were grafted onto the Vineta and Tamariskia suburbs.

March 1976: The mine and plant began operating, but setbacks arose from the abrasive nature of the granite rock containing the uranium minerals. A series of major alterations and additions to the plant, costing N$100 million at the time, was put in hand.

February 1980: The product recovery section had the highest production of uranium ever for a period of 24 hours to exceed the previous world record at the time.

1981: The Rössing Primary School and the Kolin Foundation Junior Secondary School opened in Arandis. Both schools were built by the Rössing Foundation in cooperation with the Damaraland Government, with funds provided by the Kolin Foundation while the project was managed by Rössing Uranium.

1982: Professor Chris Barnard, world-famous heart transplant surgeon, visited the mine as a guest of the Rössing Foundation.

1984: Built by the mine, the Rössing Cottage Hospital in Swakopmund was offcially opened.

October 1987: The first-ever 10 per cent trolley-assist ramp in the world came into operation at Rössing Uranium.

April 1989: The British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, visited the mine.

June 1989: Rössing Foundation celebrated a decade of service to Namibia; during this time approximately 10,000 Namibians completed various training and development courses at the Foundation.

August 1989: Martti Ahtisaari, Special Representative for the Secretary General of the United Nations, visited the mine.

1990: Commissioning of the first stage of upgrade of the Control processing centre, which included the installation of a new operating station with the latest touch-screen technology.

1990: Rössing Uranium's first social and economic report was published in 1990.

July 1990: Rössing Uranium welcomed Namibia's first President, Dr Sam Nujoma, and President of Botswana, Dr Quett Masire, at the mine.

1992: Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, visited the Rössing Foundation's Windhoek-based operations. They were accompanied by the Namibian Prime Minister Hage G Geingob.

April 1992: Rössing Uranium handed over control of Arandis and its infrastructure, valued at R100 million to the Peri-urban Development Board of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing.

1992 and 1996: Frank Fredericks, who worked at Rössing Uranium, won four silver medals at the Olympic Games (two in 1992 and two in 1996), making him Namibia's only Olympic medallist.

1996: Employees celebrated the 20th anniversary of the mine's operations.

1999: The first of five 182 tonne-haultruck pans for Rössing Uranium's new Komatsu Haulpak 730E trucks arrived on site. The pan was transported by road from Sishen in South Africa over a distance of 1,700 km.

2003: Almost 27 years to the day since the first uranium oxide was produced on 25 June 1976, the mine produced its 100,000th tonne of uranium oxide, a significant milestone in the history of the mine.

2004: Faced with another decade of depressed mining conditions, Rio Tinto took a hard decision: the Rössing Uranium mine would close down by 2009.

2004: The Omba Arts Trust was established by the Rössing Foundation. (Thereafter the trust developed as an independent, non-proft organisation.)

2005: An upsurge in the uranium price rekindled interest in uranium exploration worldwide; the mine started paving the way for increased production and growing the business.

2006: Rössing Uranium once again made history when the first ever female driller, Christina Titus, joined the drilling team.

Late 2005s: Starting in late 2005, much like in the 1970s, nuclear energy started to become a more attractive alternative source of energy, leading to a new lease of life for the mine. While uranium prices remained depressed for most of the 1990s at levels below US$10 per pound, by beginning 2006 the price went up to US$54 per pound and continued to rise to over US$100 per pound before levelling out at around US$75 by mid-2008.

2008: The mine produced 4,108 tonnes of uranium oxide in 2008, the most in 20 years. The last time that 4,000 tonnes of uranium oxide was produced was in 1998.

2008: Achieving nearly three million lost-time injury-free hours in October 2008 was a major milestone.

2008: The three Rössing Foundation education centres in Arandis, Ondangwa and Swakopmund were completed, ushering in a new era for the Foundation's education support programmes.

2009: Namibian President Hifkepunye Pohamba visited the mine for the first time.

March 2011: The effects of the nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerstation in Japan led to a decline of uranium prices.

2012: Rössing Uranium's Z20 ore body, neighbouring Swakop Uranium's Husab ore body, turned out to be a significant resource.

Rössing Foundation expanded its education support programme with the launching of the first mobile education laboratory, taking the support programmes to schools in outlying areas of the country.

2016: Rössing Uranium celebrated 40 years of production

2018: Rössing appointed its first female General Manager Operations

2018: Rio Tinto agreed to sell its stake in Rössing Uranium

2019: Rio Tinto completed sale of its stake Rössing Uranium Limited to China National Uranium Cooperation (CNUC)

2020: Rössing Uranium donated an Oxygen generator plant, valued at N$4.5 million to the Walvis Bay hospital.

2021: Rössing Uranium celebrates 45 years of production