10 September 2008 – As nuclear energy is experiencing increased popularity worldwide, demand for uranium has served to benefit Namibia, the world’s sixth largest uranium producer.
With annual production of some 3 800 tons, Namibia delivers seven percent of the worlds uranium. This has led to the country being ‘wooed’ by power producers in order to secure uranium supplies for nuclear expansion plans.
Namibia’s ministry of mines nad energy has placed a temporary ban on the issuing of exclusive prospecting licences until it has had a chance to draft a nuclear policy, in conjunction with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
With around 3,800 tons of annual production, Namibia is the world’s sixth largest uranium producer. Its delivery of seven percent of world uranium production has led to the country being wooed by big powers that wish to secure supplies for their nuclear energy expansion plans.
There are currently over 40 foreign companies with prospecting licences, with two uranium mines which are operational and 12 more are in the pipeline.
"The interest in uranium is a boost for Namibia’s economy," says Joseph Iitha, ministry permanent secretary. "The increase in local uranium mining enables Namibia to contribute towards resolving the global energy shortage."
French nuclear group Areva, by purchasing local company, UraMin, managed to overcome the prospecting ban . The company plans on investing US$750 million to create one of the world’s biggest uranium mines in Namibia.
"Construction has started and production is planned towards the end of 2009," UraMin manager, Iain McPherson
China, Russia and India have expressed interest in purchasing process uranium, also called yellow cake, from Namibia. Russia has apparently offered to build a nuclear power station in Namiba, in order to secure local energy demand.
Russia has offered to build a nuclear power plant in Namibia as Moscow seeks to break into the African nuclear market. Russia’s nuclear chief Sergey Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s atomic energy agency Rosatom, said last year that Russia was looking to build a floating nuclear power plant for Namibia to secure local electricity demand and for exports to South Africa.
"We are ready to build one," aid Russia nuclear chief, Sergey Kiriyenko when he accompanied Russian natural resources minister Yuri Trutnev to Namibia in February 2007. Russia is pioneering efforts to build offshore nuclear power plants, shrugging off criticism by environmentalists who say they are inherently unsafe.