The Beginning and Exploration
Swakop Uranium was registered as a proprietary limited (Pty Ltd) company in 2006, with the sole purpose of participating in the uranium exploration rush that was taking place at the time and ultimately to become a uranium producer. During mid to late 2000s the spot price of uranium continued to climb and by 2007 it peaked at about USD 135/lb. Namibia with it’s very long and successful history of uranium mining, coupled with a stable political and regulatory climate, was a very attractive destination for uranium exploration at the time. This period saw many exploration companies, especially from Canada and Australia, being involved in major exploration activities within the Erongo Region.
An exploration team managed to secure EPL 3138 which was located south of Rossing Uranium Mine and across the Khan River. Through a series of airborne geological surveys, the team started picking up geological anomalies based on which a series of exploration holes were planned. The result of the samples led to the discovery of Zone 1 and later Zone 2. Just 6 km across from Rossing Uranium, a mine that had been in operation for over 31 years at the time, lay the largest uranium deposits ever discovered in Namibia. For lack of a better name at the time, the site was named Rossing South and later renamed to Husab.
Uranium price continued to be stable and corporate and exploration activities continued to peak. Swakop Uranium was 100% owned by Extract Resources which at the time was a small exploration company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and headquartered in Perth, Australia. As the team onsite continued at breakneck speeds to explore and to define the ever growing resources in Zone 1 and Zone 2, the corporate activities and interests in Extract Resources also grew, helping the share price to continue to trend the exploration results. The success of the exploration team and the favourable uranium price and market dynamics at the time assisted significantly in raising the required capital to define the mineral resources in the ground and to commence with the initial technical and project scoping studies.
The Feasibility and Project Development
The growing data showed that the Rossing South/Husab deposit was indeed a world-class deposit. Swakop Uranium began assembling the team for further development.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and this marked the first major milestone in the journey from a major discovery to a world-class uranium producer.
The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the development of the Husab Mine was completed in April 2011 and thereafter a Mining License was issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in November 2011. China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) made a bid through Taurus Minerals to acquire all listed shares of Extract Resources and thereby taking ownership of Swakop Uranium.
The acquisition was completed in February 2012 and CGN and Epangelo Mining became the new shareholders/owners of Swakop Uranium. With a new and financially more capable shareholder, Swakop Uranium commenced the journey to the next phase of development. In October 2012, the CGN Board gave approval for the commencement of the construction of the Husab Mine.
Husab Project entered into construction phase, which included finalizing all detailed engineering designs, procurement of equipment and construction of all infrastructures required to operate and sustain a 15Mlbs per annum uranium mine, including construction of a village to house more than 5,000 construction workers. This period saw many successes. Swakop Uranium continued to grow into a well-known household company in Namibia.
Mining started with the first drilling operation, which commenced in February 2014 and the first blast was set-off on 12th March 2014. Swakop Uranium had the honour of hosting President Pohamba at the opening ceremony to mark the commencement of mining operations and hosting the Founding Father of Namibia—Sam Nujoma—in the inauguration of the Access Road from B2 to the Husab Mine site in May 2014.
The first ton of ore was exposed and mined from Zone 1. During this period the team of Swakop Uranium grew exponentially. Swakop Uranium had the honour of hosting President Geingob in his visit to the mine with the President of Zambia.
Total tons mined reached 100 million tons in April. On the morning of 31st December 2016, exactly 10 years after Swakop Uranium came into existence as a company, the first drums of Uranium (U3O8) were produced. Since then, the journey of Swakop Uranium to becoming a world-class Namibian uranium producer moved into a new phase, which would be a journey of more than 20 years.
Processing plant transitioned from commissioning to ramping up. Chinese Vice Premier, Mr. Zhang Gaoli visited Husab Mine.
Single month production reached 559 tons of U3O8 in August. DOAM and PBA system was implemented. Head of China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, Mr. Xiao Yaqing, visited Husab Mine. The Founding Father of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, visited Husab Mine for the second time.
More than Mining
As at June 2019, Swakop Uranium has over 1650 employees and about 500 contractors, who are currently led by Mr. Cai Yusheng, the CEO. Swakop Uranium has now embarked on a long journey with one goal: to produce uranium efficiently and responsibly, with a dream to contribute to employee development, shareholders’ interests, community growth and the national development program.