Welcome to Rössing Uranium’s Report to stakeholders 2021. This report explains our mining operations and the approach we take in what we do. It also outlines how we performed in 2021 as measured against our key drivers.
“Namibia has surpassed both Australia and Canada in 2021 to become the world’s second largest primary producer of uranium oxide.”
As the world adapts to a ‘new normal’ in terms of learning to live with COVID-19, Rössing also had to adapt to working smarter and more efficiently. This enabled us to increase production, despite the challenging circumstances.
We mined 20.7 million tonnes of material (7 per cent more than 2020) of which 10.0 million tonnes was ore (9 per cent more than 2020) with waste and low grade ore being 10.7 million tonnes, and 0.2 million tonnes of waste was dumped in the pit. In total, we produced 2,882 tonnes of uranium oxide, which is 393 tonnes more than the 2020 production.
Our production, together with the production of Swakop Uranium, meant that Namibia has now surpassed both Australia and Canada to become the world’s second largest primary producer of U3 O8, after Kazakhstan, who continues to dominate the market from a supply side. This is indeed a milestone for Namibia.
In 2020, the Rössing Board of Directors approved funds to complete a bankable feasibility study for extending the Life-of-Mine Extension (LoME) beyond 2026. This is underpinned by a north-eastern extension of the open pit, referred to as the Phase 4 push-back, which can provide sufficient ore to continue production for another ten years.
To arrive at the feasibility study, the project team had to obtain market information for benchmarking and modelling purposes to arrive at the most cost-effective scenario for an extension approval.
A major milestone for the LoME project was realised in July 2021, with the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s extension of the Rössing Mining Licence (ML28) by 15 years to July 2036.
The LoME project will inform an investment decision by the end of 2022 that must consider several aspects, in addition to the pit expansion. These include an extension of the Tailings Storage Facility, as well as the Processing Plant and infrastructure upgrades required to sustain production beyond 2030.
Confirming our commitment to working safely and achieving zero harm, we are proud of our safety performance in 2021, as we achieved an All-Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR) of 0.29 against a target of 0.51. This is the best performance the mine has recorded in the past 15 years. 2021 was also a year free of fatalities, permanent disability injuries and significant process safety incidents.
This is a commendable performance and a significant improvement in our drive towards zero harm.
2022 will be an important year, as many activities will take place as part of the LoME project. A key activity on the mining side will be diamond drilling to improve confidence in the resource model and confirm metallurgical characteristics of the Phase 4 ore.
A study will also be done to confirm the impact of blasting closer to existing mine workshops that will be affected by blast vibration and fly-rock. A positive outlook in the uranium price supports the chances of getting Board approval for this project, and thereby securing our future beyond 2026.
The Rössing Board and CNUC have demonstrated their confidence in us to execute the business’ long-term strategy by approving our proposed operating budget and capital plan for 2022, with commitment for increased technical support from CNUC. It is crucial that the Rössing team uses the successes and lessons learned this year as a foundation to achieve the budgeted production targets safely, efficiently, and cost effectively. This will contribute tremendously to further building credibility in our capability to extend the life of mine after 2026.
A word of appreciation is extended to the Minister of Mines and Energy, Hon. Tom Alweendo, for his unwavering support. I would also like to thank our employees for their hard work, positivity, and resilience during the year.
Thank you to all our stakeholders for their interest in our business. Please feel free to contact us for any comments or inputs to improve our annual report to you.
30 April 2022