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Issues at Rössing Uranium Mine, Namibia

(last updated 25 Jul 2014)

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Current Issues

Rössing desalination plant project

Rössing to construct its own desalination plant: Rössing Uranium will construct its own desalination plant, to be located 6 kilometres north of Swakopmund at the existing Swakopmund Salt Works. SLR Environmental Consulting Namibia external link and Aurecon Namibia external link have jointly been appointed to oversee the environmental impact assessment process.
Currently, Rössing Uranium purchases desalinated water for its mining operations at a significant cost. As an interim measure, Rössing Uranium, along with other mines in the region, have been supplied with desalinated water from the Areva desalination plant near Wlotzkasbaken, since November 2013, SLR said in a statement. NamWater has been pursuing the development of a new desalination plant at Mile 6 roughly 10km North of Swakopmund, but the outcome, timelines and commercial aspects to this project remains uncertain. An agreement to secure water on a long-term basis from Areva's desalination plant at economically feasible terms could also not be reached, SLR said.
The main desalination works will consist of a modular Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant with a capacity of approximately 3 million cubic metres per year equating to 8,200 cubic metres per day. The environmental impact assessment process is anticipated to be completed by January 2015, when SLR will submit its final reports to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for probing. (Nambia Economist July 25, 2014)

 

Rössing's health review still at scoping stage

It will take a long time before Rössing Uranium comes up with a scientific study that will form part of an independent review of the health, safety and environmental impacts associated with its mining activities.
In April, Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute external link (Larri) said in a report that miners who dug uranium ore that supplied the British and US military in the 1970s with the raw material for bombs and civil nuclear power were dying of cancers and unexplained illnesses after working at Rössing. The company has for many years denied these allegations.
When asked this week, how far Rössing was with the study, Melissa Shanjengange, General Manager, Organisational Resources said the first steps to design the scope of the proposed scientific study are currently being carried out in consultation with SENES Consultants. SENES is a company that specialises in energy, nuclear and environmental sciences. (Namibian July 11, 2014)

Rössing uranium mine to cut jobs and reduce production targets

Rio Tinto Group will cut the workforce at its Rössing uranium site in Namibia by 23 percent as the world's second-largest mining company responds to weaker demand for the metal used to fuel nuclear power plants. Production will fall to "slightly less" than 2,000 metric tons in 2014 from 2,409 metric tons in 2013, Rössing Uranium Ltd. Managing Director Werner Duvenhage said on a conference call today. It will cut 265 of the 1,168 positions at the mine.
Rössing will maintain production levels that will enable the company to satisfy long-term sales contracts, Duvenhage said. "We are significantly downgrading production targets."
Rössing plans to "ramp up production after 2017" and will likely return to full output in 2018 and 2019, Duvenhage said. (Bloomberg June 9, 2014)

Acidic seepage from Rössing uranium mill tailings dam - visible from space - raises public concern

Satellite images of Rössing Uranium Mine show running streams and large pools of red and green sludge collecting alongside the mine's tailings dam.
Given that mine tailings contain some of the most toxic substances on earth, the issue has sparked public concern. The tailings dam is located just to the north of the mining pit and not far from the Swakop River. Images obtained via Google Earth show unidentified liquid forming into rivulets and pools, some outside the protective walls of the tailings dam.
Rössing did not respond to concerns of radioactive risks yesterday, but noted that: "The pictures... show engineered water collection facilities that allow the mine to maintain stable retaining walls, and reuse all water that is not lost to evaporation..." The company said the images of the rivulets south of the tailings dam show the area down-stream of the "toe-drain-complex" of its tailings storage facility. (Namib Times Dec. 6, 2013)
> Aerial View of southern embankment: Google Maps external link (the current photo was taken Aug. 29, 2010)
> Aerial View of northwestern embankment: Google Maps external link (the current photo was taken Aug. 29, 2010)

"Catastrophic structural failure" of leach tank causes major spill of acidic ore slurry at Rössing uranium mine

On Jan. 17, 2014, Rössing announced that one of two modules in the mine's leaching process has been successfully brought back into service this week. The mine will be recommencing its operations, albeit at a reduced rate, over the next couple of days. The processing plant is expected to be brought back to normal operations during the current quarter. Initial findings indicate that the tank failure was due to localised external corrosion of the tank.

All milling operations at Rössing Uranium Mine ground to an immediate halt after "a catastrophic structural failure" at one of twelve leach tanks in the processing plant on Tuesday (Dec. 3).
In a statement released on Wednesday (Dec. 4), the company said that a "leak was detected on [Number] 6/1 Leach Tank shell and as a result it was decided to pump out the tank for fixing. Two operators went on top to close 6/1 leach tank launder and opened up 5/1 leach tank launder to re-route the slurry. The other four operators were below (close to 2/1 leach tank) fitting the water pipe used for flushing the pump out system... located next to 6/1 leach tank. During this time 6/1 leach tank experienced a catastrophic structural failure on the shell, while one of the sectional operators was on top of the tank... the operator on top of 6/1 leach tank was swayed onto the hand rail. He sustained minor bruises to his left lower arm and knee."
By 21:15 on Wednesday night the Director of National Radiation Protection Agency (NRPA) had not yet been informed of the "structural failure" at the mine on Tuesday. (Namib Times Dec. 6, 2013)

One of 12 leach tanks in the processing plant at Rössing Uranium Mine failed at around 18:30 on Tuesday, 3 December 2013. Apart from minor first aid administered at the scene, no employees sustained serious injuries. The spilled slimes were channeled in trenches and contained in a holding tank, with no environmental impact. The spilled slime is to be recycled in the processing plant. (Rössing Uranium Ltd Dec. 5, 2013)

> A nearly identical accident happened only four days later on Dec. 7, 2013, at Rio Tinto's Ranger mine in Australia, view details.

Rössing uranium mine enters into supply agreement for sulfuric acid from domestic source

On Sep. 26, 2013, Rössing Uranium Limited announced that it has entered into a long-term sulphuric acid supply agreement of about 225,000 tonnes sulphuric acid annually with Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb (Pty) Ltd. The acid will be railed from Tsumeb to Swakopmund by TransNamib. It is expected that shipments to Rössing will start during the fourth quarter of 2014. Rössing is currently importing its sulphuric acid for ore processing through the Port of Walvis Bay, from where it is railed to the mine site.

Rio Tinto to cut up to 276 jobs at Rössing uranium mine

Rio Tinto plans to restructure its Rössing uranium mine in Namibia and may cut up to 276 jobs as it seeks to turn around the loss-making operation. The miner said the cuts at Rössing, which has been battling with low demand, a weak uranium price and high costs, would affect roles across the organisation, including management and supervisors, but most would be in operations and maintenance. In the year to Dec. 31 Rössing recorded an operational loss of 474 million Namibian dollars [US$ 52.8 million], despite cost cuts, better ore grades and a 26 percent rise in production to 2,699 tonnes. (Reuters Mar. 1, 2013)

CRIIRAD laboratory finds elevated radiation levels around Rössing uranium mine

The French laboratory CRIIRAD external link has performed radiation monitoring in the vicinity of the Rössing uranium mine. In addition to measuring dose rates, CRIIRAD collected and analyzed samples of top soil, river sediments, groundwater and surface water.
CRIIRAD found impacts of a waste rock deposit on radionuclide concentrations in the sediments of Khan river, on gamma dose rates and radon concentrations in air nearby. Impacts of wind-blown fines from the tailings deposit were identified in soil samples. The origin of elevated uranium concentrations in groundwater downstream from the mine could not be identified.
> Download Preliminary results of CRIIRAD radiation monitoring near uranium mines in Namibia / Press Release April 11th 2012 external link (2.5MB PDF)
> Download CRIIRAD Preliminary Report No. 12-32b, Preliminary results of radiation monitoring near uranium mines in Namibia EJOLT Project external link (1.5MB PDF)

Rössing uranium mine workers on strike

Workers at Rio Tinto's Rossing mine in Namibia on Friday (Sep. 23) started an indefinite strike at the uranium mine after rejecting management's latest offer meant to settle a dispute over production incentives, a union official said. Rossing officials said parts of the mine were still operating. (Reuters Sep. 23, 2011)

Rössing workers halt production

Production at Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium Limited outside Swakopmund came to a standstill when about 500 workers downed tools early yesterday (July 12) morning. The strikers are demanding a lump sum payment of N$30,000 [US$ 4,317] per employee as a production incentive this year. Ismael Kasuto, the representative of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), said the workers have vowed not to return to work until their demand is met. (Namibian July 13, 2011)
Workers at Rio Tinto's Rössing uranium mine in Namibia have returned to work after a three-day illegal strike, the company said on Monday (July 18), while talks to resolve the wage dispute are set to resume. (Reuters July 18, 2011)

Lucky coincidence prevents crash of runaway railcar with freight train carrying acid

On Sunday May 1, 2011, an engine and a railcar carrying manganese got out of control at Arandis at 02:25 and ran unmanned 28 km downhill towards Swakopmund, until the engine derailed and tipped over to the side. The railcar remained on the track and came to a halt at 54.2 km from Arandis.
By lucky coincidence, a freight train that was scheduled to use the same track uphill to carry acid from Walvis Bay to Arandis at this same moment, had been cancelled. (Allgemeine Zeitung/Die Republikein May 5, 2011)

Strike of contract workers at Rössing uranium mine

Around 210 workers from Basil Read Mining Namibia have defied a court interdict issued last Thursday (Mar. 3) for them to halt their work stoppage, which has been going on for over a week.
Last Monday (Feb. 28), the disgruntled workers of one of Rössing Uranium's biggest contractors handed a petition to their management in which they asked for an increase from a three panel shift to a four panel shift, as well as payment of money owed to them for extra work done. In total, the figure comes to 195 hours. (New Era Mar. 7, 2011)

Railcar destined for Rössing uranium mine spills sulfuric acid after derailment

On Nov. 15, 2010, a railcar carrying almost 40 t of sulfuric acid from the Walvis Bay port to the Rössing uranium mine derailed at the Walvis Bay shunting yard. The railcar fell over and spilled an unknown amount of sulfuric acid to the ground. (Allgemeine Zeitung Nov. 16, 2010)

Iran's stake in Rössing uranium mine

Namibian government willing to take over Iran's shares in Rössing Uranium

A high-level Namibian delegation led by Foreign Affairs Minister Utoni Nujoma met its Iranian counterparts in Tehran in December to discuss Rössing Uranium's full compliance with the United Nations sanctions against companies in which the Iranian Foreign Investment Company (IFIC) has shares. During that visit the two governments agreed that legal and technical teams from both countries would meet in Namibia as a matter of urgency to discuss and finalise the details of the draft agreement. "We are still waiting for the Iranian team to visit Namibia and reminded them again about three weeks ago," Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali told The Namibian this week.
Katali shed more light on the proposal, indicating that Government also wants to have an interest in Rössing Uranium. "Government [through Epangelo Mining external link] is willing to take over the Iranian shares but we can only do it if they agree to it." In terms of the proposed agreement the Namibian government, if Iran agrees, will take over in trust all future acquisitions and or investments in Rössing Uranium for the duration of UN Security Council sanctions. (The Namibian Apr. 18, 2012)

Iran's stake in Rössing uranium mine causing headaches in view of U.N. sanctions

A Namibian uranium mine majority-owned by Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto said it is considering what to do with a stake held by the Iranian government in light of the latest U.N. sanctions. Since 1975 Iran has owned a 15 percent stake in the Rössing Uranium Mine.
U.N. Security Council resolution 1929 external link, adopted in June, bans the sale of any stakes in uranium mines to Iran, as well as shares in any commercial operations linked to the production of nuclear materials or technology. It also says that "all states shall prohibit such investment." Council diplomats told Reuters that the latest steps clearly ban the sale of new stakes to Iran but are less clear on whether any previously held Iranian stakes in uranium mines or other nuclear-related operations should be divested.
"Rössing Uranium Limited is in consultation with the Government of Namibia to find a solution to deal with the U.N. Resolution requirements and chart the way forward," Jerome Mutumba, manager for corporate communications and external relations, said in a letter to Reuters dated on Friday (Oct. 15). (The Namibian Oct. 19, 2010)
In a statement dated Nov. 4, 2010, Rio Tinto declared it is its position "that it believes to be complying with the current United Nations requirements."

U.S. concerned about trafficking of uranium mined at Rössing

The White House force to prevent nuclear and radiological materials from falling into the wrong hands, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative external link (GTRI), has told Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium to sharpen its security measures following the arrest last September of three suspects, one a Namibian Defence Force (NDF) member, for possessing and allegedly wanting to deal in nearly 170 kg of uranium oxide.
The US follows Rössing Uranium, in which the government of Iran owns 15 per cent of the shares, with a keen eye. (Namibian Feb. 3, 2010)

> See also: Police seizes 170 kg of stolen uranium

Rössing first Western producer to export uranium to China

In 2005, Rössing exported 109 t U3O8 to China. (Republikein June 7, 2006).
In 2004, Rössing exported 106 t U3O8 to China. This is the first export of a Western producer to China. (Allgemeine Zeitung Windhoek July 14, 2005)

> See also: 2004 Report to Stakeholders - Environmental, Social, Economic external link (1.5M PDF)

Elevated uranium concentrations detected in groundwater near Rössing mine

The Roessing mine has confirmed that unusual uranium levels have been detected in the Swakop River groundwater about 25 km from the mine, but says it poses no health risks. The groundwater is not being used as potable water, but for irrigation of a vegetable farming project. According to Roessing, a specialist radiologist had confirmed that it was safe for people to eat crops irrigated with the groundwater. Nevertheless, a drilling programme of N$100 000 (US$ 15,000) was started last week to confirm the extent of the anomaly and to determine whether it was stationary. (Namibian June 24, 2005)

 

Rössing Z20 project

Rössing halts preparation of Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for proposed mining of Z20 deposit

On Nov. 11, 2013, Rössing Uranium announced that it decided not to proceed the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) at this stage, "given that work to detail the arrangements for possible mining of the Z20 ore body is continuing. Therefore the SEIA will not be completed at this stage and another round of public consultation will not be conducted as yet."
> Download Rössing Uranium release Nov. 11, 2013 external link (PDF)

SEIA Draft Scoping Report for proposed mining of Rössing Z20 deposit released for comment

The consultants who prepared the report recommend that Rössing abstain from the present plan to construct an extra access road from the existing mine site to the Z20 deposit:
"It is therefore recommended that Rössing Uranium should give serious consideration to a solution for the Z20 project that does not require construction of a highly intrusive road. Two possible alternatives might be a road based on the largely unused road to Zhonghe Resources, or a possible shared-use agreement with the new Husab Project access road. Alternatives should be based on a general principle of reducing the number of infrastructure corridors across the Khan valley."
Submit comments by December 14, 2012.
> Download: Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Draft Scoping Report: Proposed Mining of the Z20 Uranium Deposit, Aurecon and SLR, 19 November 2012: Rössing Uranium external link

The Final Draft Scoping Report was issued on December 18, 2012.
> Download Proposed Mining of the Z20 Uranium Deposit, Final Draft Scoping Report, December 2012 external link (Aurecon)

Proposed mining of Z20 deposit to double Rössing's water consumption

On Oct. 23, 2012, Rössing informed citizens in Swakopmund on the proposed mining of its Z20 deposit. The open pit mine to be dug south of the Khan ephemeral stream will have a size of 1 km by 600 m. The ore grade is approx. 350 ppm U3O8.
The project would drastically increase Rössing's power and water requirements: a 50% increase of electric power consumption and a 100% increase of water consumption (from 4 to 8 million cubic metres per year). The required amount of water can only be supplied by desalination.
Construction will begin "as soon as the uranium price recovers". (Allgemeine Zeitung Oct. 24, 2012)

Rössing invites comment on "Background Information Document" for proposed mining of Z20 deposit

"The purpose of this Background Information Document (BID) is to provide stakeholders with the opportunity to register as interested and affected parties (IAPs) in the Social Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) process and to obtain their initial comments on the proposed mining of the Z20 uranium deposit."
Submit comments by 31 October 2012.
> Download Background Information Document for the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for the Proposed Mining of the Z20 Uranium Deposit external link (Rössing Uranium Ltd - 1.8MB PDF)
"All SEIA documents will be available on the Aurecon (Pty) Ltd website external link (follow the public participation link)."

Rössing plans mining of Z20 deposit in Namib Naukluft Park

According to environmental consultancies Aurecon external link and SLR-Consulting external link, Rössing plans to mine the Z20 uranium deposit. The deposit is located within the current ML28 mining licence, 5 km to the south of the existing open pit mine, and it adjoins the Husab mine project (formerly Rössing South). It is located within the Namib Naukluft Park.
The deposit is to be mined by "blasting, loading and hauling" of the ore. The deposit is to be connected to the existing mill site via a 16 km road and a 13 km conveyor belt with a capacity of 2250 t of ore per hour. Under favourable circumstances, the project might start operation in 2015.
The public will be informed at two meetings on Oct. 23 and 24. (Allgemeine Zeitung Oct. 15, 2012)
In Rio Tinto's 2011 Annual Report (March 2012), the only mention of the Z20 deposit still had been just this: "On the Rössing mine lease in Namibia, evaluation of the Z20 prospect continued", while Rössing's 2011 Report to Stakeholders (May 2012) mentioned "potential for up to 50,000 t of uranium in Z20".

 

Rössing mine expansion project

Environmental clearance issued for Rössing mine expansion project

On July 5, 2012, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism issued the environmental clearance for the Rössing mine expansion project.
> Download Environmental Clearance, July 5, 2012 external link (368k PDF - Aurecon)

Draft SEIA for expansion of Rössing uranium mine available for comment - for just two weeks

The proposed mine expansion activities include the following: The comment period lasts from October 17 to October 31, 2011.
"The intention is to submit the final SEIA Phase 2b Report to MET:DEA by early November 2011." (page viii of the SEIA)

Apparently, Rio Tinto does not expect any substantial comments: indeed, in view of the absurd short comment period, anything else would be a great surprise! But just the above enumeration already identifies the lack of basic data, without which an SEIA is completely useless...

As a founding member of International Council on Mining and Metals external link (ICMM), Rio Tinto has committed to a number of principles external link, in particular: "Principle 10. Implement effective and transparent engagement, communication and independently verified reporting arrangements with our stakeholders. [...] Engage with and respond to stakeholders through open consultation processes."

The recent admission of Areva to ICMM had nurtured expectations, that Areva finally would commit to more civilized manners, but we now find that the opposite effect has taken place: longstanding ICMM members adopt Areva's infamous practices, such as its 2-week consultation period for the Trekkopje ESIA in 2007!

> Download Draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Phase 2b: Proposed Expansion of Rössing Uranium Mine, October 2011 external link (Rössing Uranium)

The final EIA was released in November 2011.
> Download Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Phase 2b: Proposed Expansion of Rössing Uranium Mine, Final, Nov. 2011 external link (Aurecon)

Summary of Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for Rössing mine expansion project released

The proposed mine expansion activities include the following:

> Download Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Rössing uranium mine expansion project - Summary of specialist studies for information external link, Rössing Uranium Ltd / Aurecon, August 2010 (3.2M PDF)
> Download Background Information Document - Rössing Uranium Mine Expansion external link, Rössing Uranium Ltd / Aurecon, July 2010 (248k PDF)

Public meetings on still unavailable Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for Rössing mine expansion project

On Aug. 10, 2010, public meetings were announced for Aug. 14, 18, and 21, 2010, to discuss the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for the Rössing mine expansion project. The SEIS, however, is still "nearing completion" and not available yet.

> View Notice of Public Meeting and Road Shows, Aug. 10, 2010 external link

Rössing releases Draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Report for Sulphur Handling facility in the port of Walvis Bay

The comment period for public participation closes on 6 December 2009.

> Download Draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Report, Proposed Mine Expansion project phase 2A - Sulphur Handling facility in the port of Walvis Bay external link

Rössing expects to produce 4,000 t uranium per year until 2023

Rio Tinto's Rössing Uranium mine in Namibia is on track to produce 4,000 tonnes of the metal this year and plans to maintain that output on average until 2023, an official said late on Wednesday (Oct. 14). (Reuters Oct. 15, 2009)

Rössing considers increasing annual uranium-oxide production further to 6,500 metric tons in 2012

Speaking at the mine last week, Rossing managing director Mike Leech said the goal of growing to 5500 tonnes of uranium by 2012, outlined four months ago, would probably be raised in the first or second quarter of next year. The open pit mine in the Namib Desert will log production of more than 4000 tonnes of uranium in 2008, its best year since 1990. It is looking to build up to the plant's design capacity of 4500 tonnes by 2012. To boost production further, Rossing is considering building the world's first commercial uranium heap leach operation, which could produce 2000 tonnes of uranium a year from 2011. Targets outlined in July had allowed for 1000 tonnes a year. ( The Australian Nov. 10, 2008)

Rössing to increase annual uranium-oxide production to 5,500 metric tons in 2012

Rio Tinto Group plans to boost output from the Rossing mine in Namibia by 38 percent and extend its life as Asian countries plan more nuclear reactors. Rio will dig a second pit and use new processing techniques to increase annual uranium-oxide production to 5,500 metric tons in 2012, from the 4,000 tons this year, Rossing Managing Director Mike Leech said today. The London-based company intends to operate the mine beyond 2021, he said. Rossing produced 3,046 tons of uranium oxide in 2007. Rio may expand existing processing plants or use so-called heap-leaching technology to boost output, Leech said in a presentation at the mine. Heap leaching uses sulfuric acid to extract metal from ore. Trials are under way and an investment decision will be made in May 2009. The first production using the process on stockpiled ore may come in the first quarter of 2011 and add as much as 1,000 tons of annual output, Leech said. (Bloomberg Nov. 6, 2008)

Rio Tinto may further extend Rössing mine life to 2030

Uranium deposits at the Roessing mine may be sufficient to allow operations until 2030. The mine's official lifespan is until 2021. "We believe the ore is there and could take us up to 2030," said Dave Gerrard, Roessing's Manager for Development Projects, at a recent press conference at Swakopmund. (The Namibian Aug. 29, 2008)

Rössing releases Final Scoping Report for Social and Environmental Assessment for Phase 2 of Mine Expansion Project; includes new acid heap leaching facility

> Download Final Scoping Report Phase 2, May 9, 2008 external link

Rössing granted Environmental Clearance for Phase 1 of Mine Expansion Project

Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism has granted the Environmental Clearance for Rössing Uranium to proceed with components of their Mine Expansion Project that were addressed in the Phase 1 assessment. These encompass the following: > View Rössing release Apr. 23, 2008 external link

Rössing releases Draft Scoping Report for Social and Environmental Assessment for Phase 2 of Mine Expansion Project; includes new acid heap leaching facility

Phase 2 assessment: Stakeholders are invited to inspect the report and submit their comments by 30 April 2008.

> Download Draft Scoping Report Phase 2, April 10, 2008 external link

Rössing releases Final Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for Phase 1 and Scoping Report for Phase 2 of Mine Expansion Project

On March 18, 2008, Rössing released the Final Social and Environmental Assessment Report: Proposed Expansion Project for Rössing Uranium Mine in Namibia: Phase 1 assessment - Acid Plant, Ore Sorter, SK4 Pit. The Final SEIA report has now been submitted to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism of the Government of Namibia for consideration.
> Download Final SEIA external link

Rössing releases Public Information Document for the proposed sulphur handling facility in the Port of Walvis Bay

A comment period until 29 February 2008 is being provided.
> Download SEIA: Public Information Document for Rössing Uranium's Expansion Project on Bulk Sulphur Storage and Handling at the Walvis Bay Port external link, Feb. 4, 2008

Rössing releases Draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for Phase 1 and Scoping Report for Phase 2 of Mine Expansion Project

On Jan. 22, 2008, Rössing Uranium released the Draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for Phase 1 of its Mine Expansion Project as well as the Scoping Report for the Phase 2 Assessment.
Stakeholders are invited to inspect the reports and submit their comments by 15 February 2008.
> Download Draft SEIA external link

Rössing releases Scoping Report for Mine Expansion Project

Rössing's Scoping Report for the Mine Expansion Project is available for inspection from Nov. 16, 2007. Stakeholders are invited to submit their comments by Dec. 14, 2007.
> Download draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Report for Rössing Uranium Mine's Expansion Project - Scoping Report external link

Rössing presents details of Mine Expansion Project

During the first phase of the expansion programme,

In a following phase,

> Download Rössing Uranium Mine Expansion Project, Social and Environmental Impact Assessment, Public Information Document, August 2007 external link (251k PDF)

On August 20-22, 2007, Rössing holds three public meetings on its Mine Expansion Project.

Rössing extends mine life to 2021 and raises annual production target to 4500 t U3O8

Namibia's Rossing Uranium mine is going to ramp up output from the current 4,000 tonnes of uranium oxide to 4,500 tonnes annually and has extended mine life span from 2016 to 2021. The country's oldest uranium miner, Rossing has moved from a planned closure to significant growth. The mine had planned to shut down between 2007 and 2009 when international prices of uranium were at their lowest. Rossing produced 3,617 tonnes of U308 in 2006 and has targeted to produce 4,000 tonnes in 2007 and 4,500 tonnes per year from 2008. Some US$112 million was invested to expand Rossing Uranium's life span. (APA Aug. 21, 2007)

Rio Tinto may further extend Rössing mine life to 2021

Rio Tinto's Rössing uranium mine might extend its life span by five years, according to Rehabeam Hoveka, general manager of corporate services. "Rössing has recently identified potential for further extension to 2021 and in addition have exploration drilling programmes in two areas inside the mining area," said Hoveka. The mine produced 3617 tons of uranium oxide in 2006. (Bloomberg Feb. 19, 2007)

Rio Tinto approves extension of Rössing mine life to 2016

Rio Tinto has approved a US$ 112 million project to extend the life of the Rössing uranium mine to 2016, from 2009. It will also boost annual output to 4000 tons of uranium oxide within two years, up from about 3600 tons this year. (Business Day Dec. 15, 2005)

> Download: Sustainability Assessment for the Life Extension of Rössing Uranium - Integrated Executive Summary, Oct. 2004 external link (447k PDF)

Rössing plans to extend mine life by 12 years

The chairman of Rossing's board of directors, Charles Kauraisa, says the mine is to invest over 400 million dollars in the expansion of its production as a result of the reported improvement in the demand for uranium on the world market. The company plans to extend the life of the mine by 12 years. The feasibility study to determine the impact of the proposed expansion of the mine is currently under way. (RedNova Oct. 1, 2005)

Rössing mine to continue operation until at least 2009

Uranium production will continue at the Rossing mine until at least 2009 under a revised phase-one mining plan approved by the board of directors of Rossing Uranium Ltd. The decision means that the option of shutting the mine in 2007, as provided in the previous mining plan, will no longer apply. Although the previous phase-two proposal to extend Rossing's life by a further 10 years, to 2016/17, has had to be abandoned as economically unviable in prevailing economic circumstances, Rossing is currently evaluating a phase-three development, which would enable mining to be continued for a similar duration. (WNA News Briefing 17 May 2005)

Rössing mine might continue operation until 2017

Rössing has submitted to its parent company Rio Tinto an investment proposal to extend the mine life to approx. 2017. Since Rio Tinto has not accepted the proposal, Rössing is currently doing some "additional refinement" on it. (Rössing Sep. 14, 2004)

All indications are that Rössing Uranium Limited is set to extend the lifespan of its mine near Swakopmund "until about 2016". The company announced recently that a Sustainable Assessment (SA) for the life extension of the mine had been completed as part of Rössing's endeavours to extend the current operation to 2016 rather than 2007 as originally anticipated.
"Although no decision has yet been taken on the future of the mine, new opportunities to extend (it) have been identified and are now being investigated," said Managing Director Mike Leech. (Namibian Jan. 3, 2005)

 

Rössing uses decommissioning fund to keep mine operating

According to chairperson of the The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) Rössing branch, Erich Beukes, the company was using money from its decommissioning fund to operate the mine. "There is only enough money left until June this year."
Managing Director David Salisbury acknowledged that the company was using some of the decommissioning fund to maintain cash flow. "It is true that we are using some of that money, but we have no intention of exhausting the fund," he said. (The Namibian Jan. 28, 2004)

Note 1: The Rössing mine (and the associated uranium mill tailings pile) is the by far largest single uranium mining-related liability in the world.

Note 2: Rössing's parent company Rio Tinto is a member of the International Council on Mining & Metals external link - "dedicated to economic progress, environmental protection and social responsibility".

 

Rössing to close down by 2007

The Rossing uranium mine, is expected to close down in 2007, the mine's management announced on Dec. 17, 2003. The mine was running at a loss this year because of the current uranium price, high costs and the continued strengthening of the Rand against the US dollar. The current plans are to mine out the present pit which will be towards the end of 2007. Only a marked turnaround in Rossing's financial fortunes could lengthen the life of the mine beyond 2007. But, unless significant improvements in the mine's financial position are reached by mid-2004, the mine may need to consider closing down even earlier than 2007. The mine currently employs 820 people and about 214 contractors. (The Namibian Dec. 18, 2003)

 

Rössing considering early close down

Volatile economic conditions (in particular the low exchange rate for the Namibian Dollar) have forced Rössing to take a critical decision on its future. By the end of the year 2003, Rössing Uranium's board of directors will decide to either extend the mine's life well into the next decade through significant capital investment or to prepare for closure by 2010. This is a sharp turnabout from last year's confident statement by the company that the mine would be in business for the next 17 years. (Namibian March 10, 2003)

 

Verification study finds no excess chromosomal aberrations in Namibian uranium miners

> See extra page

 

Rössing to shed 200 employees

Rössing Uranium has announced to shed 200 employees of its 1220 workforce by the year 2000. Rössing is currently operating at 75% of its capacity due to the depressed uranium market.
(The Namibian external link, Sept. 16, Nov. 13, 1998)

 

Rössing (Namibia) drops plans for dam construction and for increase of production

Rössing Uranium has dropped its controversial scheme to dam the Khan River as well as plans to increase production at its Arandis mine in Namibia. The dam was meant to recharge the Khan River aquifer from which the Rössing mine draws water for industrial use. It would have allowed Rössing to double its present potential water extraction from 0.87 million cubic meters to 1.75 million cubic meters a year.

Source: The Namibian external link, December 1 and 2, 1997

 

Compensation case of former Rössing uranium miners (Namibia)

Door slams shut on former Rossing worker

(The Namibian, Dec. 7, 1998 external link)
"A FORMER Rossing Uranium engineer's quest for compensation was thwarted again on Friday when London High Court Judge Michael Wright decided in a written judgement that Eddie Connelly's case was 'time-expired'.

However, Anne Carlson was allowed to proceed in a separate compensation case on behalf of her late husband as Wright dismissed Rio Tinto's attempt to shift the hearing to Windhoek. Peter Carlson died of cancer after working alongside Connelly from 1977 until the early 1980s.

Lawyers are studying the Connelly judgement and considering an appeal.

The Judge dismissed Rio Tinto's attempt to throw the Connelly case out of Court completely. If the allegations were proven, Rio Tinto would owe a "duty of care" and could be held liable if they had failed in their responsibilities, the Judge decided.

Wright also ruled against Rio Tinto's claim that any attempt to prove Connelly's cancer was caused by radioactive uranium dust, was bound to fail.

But Wright ruled that Connelly was already out of time when his current solicitor Richard Meeran issued proceedings in September 1994.

Connelly himself is prepared to fight on and told The Namibian: "It's ridiculous to say I should have quit years ago. I've got to live with the effects of cancer for the rest of my life." [...]"

> See also previous stories: (The Namibian, Nov. 2 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 20 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26, Dec. 1 external link, 1998)

Cancer cases stalled

(The Namibian, May 11, 1998 external link)

"ROSSING Uranium's parent company in London has thrown yet another set of obstacles in the path of cancer victims and their relatives seeking compensation.

Rio Tinto has made a surprise application to block the compensation claim brought by Anne Carlson on behalf of her husband, former Rossing Uranium miner and oesophageal cancer victim Peter Carlson who died in 1995.

The company argues that any trial should take place in Namibia rather than London. Mrs Carlson lives in South Africa." [...]

Rössing faces new health claim

(The Namibian, Feb. 3, 1998 external link)

"ROSSING Uranium's parent company, Rio Tinto, is facing a new compensation claim related to alleged poor health and safety conditions at the mine.

Anne Carlson, the widow of former Rossing worker Peter Carlson, is suing Rio Tinto in England seeking compensation for her late husband's suffering from cancer, her lawyers announced yesterday.

Peter Carlson died of oesophageal cancer in January 1995.

Mrs Carlson's lawyer, Richard Meeran, said the claim should not come as a surprise to the multinational mining company as they had been notified of the nature of Peter Carlson's illness in December 1994, shortly before he died.

Professor Johnny Myers, Director of Occupational Health at the University of Cape Town, has linked Carlson's cancer to uranium dust exposure at Rossing according to the lawyers. Carlson was apparently a non-smoker and rarely drank alcohol which made other causes of cancer unlikely." [...]

Breakthrough! Ex-Rossing man to bring cancer case

(The Namibian, July 25, 1997 external link)

FORMER Rossing Uranium engineer and cancer victim, Edward Connelly, Thursday finally won his long legal battle to have the right to bring his compensation case in the British courts.

In a groundbreaking judgement, Britain's highest court, the House of Lords, said Connelly had the right to use British legal aid to continue his £400 000 (N$3 million) claim in London against the British mining multinational Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ), which owns Rossing. [...]

More cancer claims

(The Namibian, July 25, 1997 external link)

BBC TV this week broadcast statements from four mineworkers who claim their ill-health resulted from poor working conditions at the Rossing Uranium mine.

The BBC's main in-depth news programme, Newsnight, interviewed Edward Connelly, who Thursday won the right to bring his N$3 million compensation case in the UK, Petrus Hwaibe, Petrus Naibab, and featured an archive statement from the late Peter Carlson, who died from cancer in 1994.

Connelly, who worked at the mine from 1977 to 1982, told the BBC that when he started working at Rossing: "Nobody had a mask there, nobody, at the mine... they never offered them a mask. We were told it was quite safe, it's low grade, you know just to stand back away from the dust, which is impossible." [...]


compiled by:
WISE Uranium Project (home) · (Uranium Mining and Milling)