WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Paladin Energy said it expects its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia to reach nameplate production of 3.7 million lb of uranium oxide this year, despite heavy rains that hit its first quarter.
Apart from Rio Tinto’s Rossing mine, Langer Heinrich is the only other operating uranium mine in Namibia.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t continue to reach our nameplate output,” Werner Duvenhage, a general manager at the mine, told Reuters on Wednesday on the sidelines of a mining conference in Windhoek.
Duvenhage said the $125 million stage 3 expansion of the mine, which will see output ramped up to 5.2 million lb a year, is “92 percent complete” and will come online later this year.
A pre-feasibility study into a further expansion has been commissioned, he added.
“This will see production grow till 10 million lb by 2014 or 2015,” he said, adding that the cost for the stage 4 expansion was estimated at between $300 million and $400 million.
Duvenhage reiterated Paladin sees the long-term outlook for uranium as “extremely good”.
Spot uranium on Wednesday stood at $57.75 per pound, down from a record around $136 in June 2007, but some miners are betting on its long-term prospects due to the push into lower-carbon forms of energy production, despite current doubts prompted by .
Duvenhage said Paladin would adopt a wait-and-see attitude to Namibia’s announcement on Tuesday that it would introduce minerals windfall taxes to boost its benefits from the mining industry.
“It is positive that the minister has asked the industry to come up with proposals. It means he is looking for a workable solution. That is reasonable. But it’s too early to say anything,” he said.
Duvenhage said the industry and the minister had reached an agreement on rules regulating black ownership in the industry, although details of the deal were still confidential.
Almost all of Namibia’s mining and exploration projects are owned by foreign firms and the government is striving to increase local interests in the sector.
Langer Heinrich produced 3.7 million lb of yellow cake last year and had turnover of 1.4 billion Namibian dollars and profit of 254 million Namibian dollars.