Trekkopje Under Care and MaintenanceNyasha Francis NyaungwaAll Africa Global Media
Depressed uranium prices have forced French energy giant AREVA to put its US$1billion Namibian Trekkopje project under care and maintenance until prices improve.
In a statement released Thursday soon after officials met with President Hifikepunye Pohamba at State House, AREVA said it was postponing the launch of the Trekkopje mine until the project's economy improves.
"In October 2011, the decline in uranium prices resulting from the nuclear accident at Fukushima forced a slowdown in the Trekkopje project to allow more time to optimise the technical and economic drivers of the future operation.
"AREVA was engaged in an intensive programme to find innovative solutions for the launch of the mine. "Nevertheless, considering both the continued decrease of uranium prices coupled with the investments yet to be made on site, AREVA has no other option than to postpone the launch of the Trekkopje mine."
The uranium spot price has been on a downward spiral post since the Fukumisha incident and last week the price fell US$0.75 to US$45.75 per pound of uranium oxide.
Ongoing construction work at the project is expected to be completed by end of December 2012 and thereafter the mine will be put under a US$10 million per year structured care and maintenance programme with the objective to restart the project as soon as the overall market environment allows it.
AREVA said it is committed to staying in Namibia over the long term and it will continue its involvement with the local populations in the regions of Erongo, Arandis and Swakopmund through actions in support of education, healthcare, and local economic development.
The Erongo desalination plant will also remain in operation to produce water for local industries and populations.