Namibia Makes Offer to Buy Areva Water Desalination Plant

Namibia has formally made an offer to buy Areva SA’s water desalination plant in the country to secure supplies for uranium-mining operations as well as towns in the semi-arid Erongo region and western coastal area.

Formal negotiations will start Tuesday though both Areva and the government have “started communicating,” Joseph Iita, permanent-secretary in Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, said today in a phone interview from the southwest African nation’s capital Windhoek.

“The offer has been made but we are still to start the negotiations,” Iita said. “We have started engaging Areva, we haven’t reached a point where I can talk about the price (offer) yet. The first meeting will be held next week.”

Namibia wants ownership of the 20 million-cubic-meter desalination plant, which Paris-based Areva built with initial plans to secure supplies for its Trekkopje uranium project that was mothballed in 2012 due to low prices of the nuclear fuel.

The world’s fourth-largest uranium producer is running short of water for the coastal towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay. Traditional sources such as the Omaruru delta and Kuiseb River aquifers dwindled last year amid the Namibia’s worst drought in three decades.

The plant’s supplies are critical to Paladin Energy’s Langer Heinrich mine, Rio Tinto Plc’s Rossing mine and China General Nuclear Power Holding Corp.’s Husab mine. Namibia says securing ownership would enable it to supply water to such mines as Husab, Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali told Chinese officials during a visit, Namibia Press Agency said today.

“If we buy the desalination plant from Areva, water problems at Husab will be a thing of the past,” the state-run news agency quoted Katali as saying during a meeting with Wu Xinxiong, director of China’s National Energy Administration.

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