Managing Director (MD) of the QKR Namibia Navachab Gold Mine George Botshiwe is concerned about industrial energy supply to the mine beyond 2025. Botshiwe is worried that if no major national power supply projects are soon implemented, it could adversely impact Namibian energy levels beyond 2025, which could result in power supply risk to the mine’s operations.
NamPower connected Navachab to the Namibian national electricity grid with a single three phase line at 66kv using Hare conductors. The mine has a sub-station adjacent to the plant and provides the mine with 11kv through a 10MVA step down transformer.
“The mine currently has a back-up supply of 1.9MVA in case of emergency, and the generator has the capacity to keep all leach tanks agitated in cases of emergency,” said Botshiwe. NamPower recently stated that it is developing some six solar photovoltaic plants in the country that should supply 220 MWp of electricity to the national grid, bringing Namibia’s production to 751 MW by 2023. To achieve this objective, the National Power Corporation will have to invest N$4.7 billion.
NamPower executives also noted that several transmission projects have been approved as part of its corporate strategy and business plan that will be built in the next five years to strengthen the national grid and dispatch the power throughout the country.
“In order to fulfil the country’s development goals, we need sufficient supply of electricity as the country continues to import a significant share of its electricity needs from SADC,” said NamPower MD Simson Haulofu in a recent interview.
Navachab Gold Mine is located 10km from the town of Karibib, and as of April 2021, the mine has a labour force of 791 employees. Of the total, the MD said 787 are Namibians, and four are ex-pats.
“In the last 14 months, Navachab recruited 165 staff, of which 60% are from the Karibib constituency and Erongo region. Further recruitment is expected beyond 2021 in alignment with expansion projects,” he stated. Botshiwe noted that the mine is supplied with water from the Swakoppoort Dam, operated by the national water utility, NamWater. “A 20-year extension to the water supply contract with NamWater was signed in 2020, and
Navachab is entitled to draw 135 000m3 of raw water per month, which is significantly above the mine’s average and peak consumption levels,” Botshiwe explained.
He noted the deal was necessitated because the mine has been actively working on water consumption optimisation by introducing various initiatives. Since 2016, water efficiency has nearly doubled from 0.60m3/t ore processed to 0.32m3/t ore processed. The Swakoppoort Dam, situated 82km from Navachab, is currently at about 84 capacity as of 7 June 2021.
Initiatives invested by the mine to improve water efficiency and reduce freshwater consumption includes residue belt filtration installed in 2012. This process recovers water from residue and exceptionally reduces losses through evaporation.
Botshiwe added that utilised pit dewatering for dust control has been significantly reduced on main haul roads, as these have been covered in DMS tailings to cut back on freshwater consumption.
Botshiwe noted that mines are sensitive to any water shortages and any drought or water supply shortages may present further risks to their operation.
In terms of social responsibility, Botshiwe said the mine’s objective is to be involved in and contributing to the welfare of the country’s citizens, especially in the areas surrounding the mine.“This is to continuously support communities that are directly and indirectly impacted by the presence of the mine. Also, to provide employment to eligible members of the surrounding communities and demonstrate responsibility towards the welfare of the said communities. Areas of direct influence consists in the towns of Karibib and Usakos, as well as the village of Otjimbingwe,” outlined the MD.