NamPower and solar central to Namibia’s mining future
At a time when renewable energy, ESG reporting, climate change and water supply dominate mining discussions, it is interesting to try and find out which way exploration companies in Africa (those that are likely to operate producing mines soon) are heading in terms of energy and water supply.
By Leon Louw owner and editor of WhyAfrica
While most remote mines in Africa are opting for hybrid energy systems (some going completely off-grid), several feasibility studies have found that the most cost-effective option is to utilise existing grid power augmented by some sort of renewable option like solar and wind, and even hydro power in wetter areas like the DRC and Zambia.
In arid Namibia, where more than a handful of exploration projects are rapidly moving through the mining cycle, they all have different philosophies; however, it seems that NamPower, the Namibian power supply authority, will continue playing a central role in their future plans.
There are, of course, a number of reasons for this. I took a look at ASX listed Deep Yellow’s Tumas uranium project in Namibia recently. Deep Yellow is currently working on their Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) and the company’s updates makes for interesting reading. Uranium is on a rebound and many of those greenfield projects in Namibia will soon start making financial sense.
Key infrastructure in focus
The availability of key infrastructure requirements for the Tumas project has been thoroughly examined by Deep Yellow as part of the first phase DFS work program.
The company stated in a recent announcement that the Pre- Feasibility Study assumed that power would be generated at site for the project and power station waste heat used to generate process steam.
However, stated John Borshoff, director and CEO of Deep Yellow, a detailed trade-off study has concluded that the most cost-effective option for the project is in fact to utilise grid power supplied by the Namibian power supply authority, NamPower, augmented by a dedicated solar array, with process heat provided by conventional Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) fired boilers.
“Examination of the costs associated with this arrangement indicates that it will result in overall costs that are lower than those assumed for the PFS and will also improve the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions for the project over its 20-plus year life,” says Borshoff.
Water supply in the Namib
Deep Yellow’s initial PFS assumed that water supply for the project was to be sourced from a combination of available local groundwater and water supplied by the Namibian water supply utility, NamWater. “This arrangement remains the base case, however, due to the opportunity to lower the cost of water, a strategy to reduce the supply cost has been developed and will be progressed during the second phase of the DFS,” Borshoff stated in a recent ASX statement.
“Two of the six proposed groundwater production bores in previously identified target zones have now been completed and test pumping undertaken. The results indicate that the assumed sustainable supply of ground water for low impact uses, such as dust suppression, will be readily available in close proximity to the project area and within the proposed mining license.
Furthermore, the findings from the initial results reduce the demand for high-quality and expensive desalinated water from NamWater, as envisaged in the PFS.
Full research reports about mining, renewable energy and water will be available in the WhyAfrica library towards the end of 2022. However, we will publish a a number of articles in this year’s WhyAfrica magazines.
Our next magazine will be published and will be available for free at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in May 2022. WhyAfrica will undertake a road trip through SA, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana in June and July. Make sure to follow us on our website and social media pages, and subscribe to our newsletters and magazines, as we further unpack the challenges and opportunities in the energy and water sectors and dissect the ESG space during our 47-day overland road trip through SA, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Contact us for more information
Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in natural resources and African affairs.
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