Parallel to Rössing's current production of uranium oxide are activities that focus on expanding current operations to enable the mine to continue to operate profitably to 2023 and beyond, adding value to our workforce, our communities and to Namibia. One of the mine's expansion activities is a study on heap leaching. Heap leaching differs from the current tank-leaching process in that the uranium-bearing ore requires less crushing before it is stacked onto heaps. The uranium is leached from these heaps by percolating acid through them. Heap leaching can be conducted at a lower cost than tank leaching.
The Heap Leach Project, once approved, will supplement the existing tank leach process and increase overall uranium production levels. The heap leaching facility includes leach pads, a dedicated crushing and processing plant and a waste ore disposal facility. The proposed heap leach pads and associated processing plant are planned to be located on top of the current Rössing tailings facility.
In addition to the Heap Leach Project, drilling of existing and new areas surrounding the current open pit has been undertaken to investigate the extent of the uranium ore available within the Rössing mining licence area. The expansion will result in an increase in size and depth of the current open pit, which in turn will require larger waste rock dumps and tailings facility.
A Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) was commissioned to ensure that the planned expansion activities are aligned with Namibian legislation and to optimally manage mitigation measures related to the planned expansion activities on site. Before Rössing is able to finalise its proposed expansion activities, the general public needs to be informed and public opinion needs to considered, hence the current public meetings.
The lead SEIA consultant, Aurecon (previously Ninham Shand) has subcontracted specialists from Namibia and internationally to carry out the specialist studies as part of the SEIA. Marie Hoadley has been appointed as Public Participation Manager. Instead of having only public town hall meetings, a number of site visits, focus group meetings, road shows and one public meeting in Arandis are being held. The aim is to talk to and share information with a range of interested and affected parties (I&APs). It is hoped that this approach will reach a broader audience than before and result in I&APs with a better and more detailed understanding of the project, which in turn will lead to a more comprehensive input into the impact assessment.
Aurecon and various specialists are presenting the findings of these specialist studies and the preliminary outcomes of the SEIA to the public this month. The final Continues Page 2 of 3
SEIA report will be made available for public review later in the year and this will be separately announced.
Upon completion and submission of the final SEIA Report, Rössing will apply to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism's Directorate of Environmental Affairs for an environmental clearance for the expansion project.
Recommendations from the specialist studies will be developed into mitigation and environmental management plans so that any possible adverse impacts of the expansion would be outweighed by the mine's increased contributions to the national, regional and local economy.
Should such an application be successful, Rössing will approach Rio Tinto for approval to proceed with the design phase of the expansion project.
History of the expansion activities
The last five years have seen a rapid increase in uranium exploration and development in Namibia. Much of this has been driven by the increased world demand for uranium oxide. Although the spot price for uranium has remained volatile due to the effects of the global financial crisis, the long term outlook for this industry remains bright.
In early 2008, technical and feasibility studies for the proposed expansion activities at Rössing were initiated, stakeholder meetings were held and a scoping report was finalised and published. However, due to the world financial crisis, Rio Tinto took a cautionary approach to new projects and at the time decided to limit all new projects within the Rio Tinto Group.
In 2009 Rössing proceeded with the feasibility study, given continued world demand for uranium oxide and a commitment by Rössing to continue to strengthen and improve its business and ensure its long term viability.
The socio‐economic, environmental and technical studies have progressed throughout 2009 and 2010 and are now nearing completion.
These studies have included comprehensive air quality and ground water modelling, public radiation dose assessment, social and economic, traffic, noise, blast vibration, visual, archaeological, fauna and flora studies. Some of the studies have built on previous data; however, much is based on new information and sampling data, thus providing new and important findings.
The draft SEIA document will be made available for public review following the meetings and the input and concerns received from stakeholders and interested and affected parties will be included in the document.
Rössing Uranium produces and exports uranium oxide from Namibia to nuclear power utilities around the world for the generation of electricity, a clean source of energy.
Our core purpose is to maximize the value delivered to shareholders by being a safe, significant and growing long term supplier of uranium oxide.
Rössing has been mining and processing uranium in Namibia for the past 34 years. It is the third largest uranium mine in the world. In 2009 Rössing mined 54.5 million tonnes of rock and produced 4,150 tonnes of uranium oxide, one of the most productive years in recent times.
The number of permanent staff is currently 1,566.
Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining houses in the world, owns the majority of shares (69%) in Rössing Uranium Limited.
General Manager Corporate Services
Rössing Uranium Limited