Orano Mining Namibia has made a once-off donation of 200 000 cubic metres (200 million litres) of desalinated water, valued at N$6 million, to the local authorities in the coastal area. The donation, which will be spread over April and May 2020, is in support of government’s relief efforts to address the economic challenges triggered by the Covid-19 outbreak. The bulk volume of water at no charge will be distributed via NamWater from the Erongo Desalination Plant (EDP).
The donation is Orano Mining Namibia’s contribution to alleviate the needs of the communities of Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Arandis for continued access to clean water during the lockdown stages. Clean water is a key hygienic element in the fight against the virus, but more importantly, the donation will benefit communities who are struggling to pay their water bills during this challenging time.
Last month, Orano Mining Namibia donated sanitiser gel, surgical gloves and surgical masks to the value of approximately N$30 000 to the Erongo Regional Command of the Namibian Police for use by Nampol and NDF members jointly stationed at the 16 stations that form the centre of the Covid-19 response of the authorities in the Erongo region.
“We hope that this will bring some relief to the economic pressures faced by the local authorities as they endeavour to provide free water to the communities in our region. We believe this would greatly assist in maintaining the vitally hygienic standards during the lockdown stages and beyond as we continue to mobilise national efforts,” said Orano Mining Namibia’s managing director Tommie Gouws.
The EDP was originally built to supply water for Orano’s Trekkopje mine near Arandis, currently still in care and maintenance as a result of the continued depression in the uranium price. The plant was a private investment aimed primarily at servicing a mine of the same owner (Orano) and not intended to be a public infrastructure project. Located 35 kilometres north of Swakopmund near the settlement of Wlotzkasbaken in the Namib Desert, it is the largest reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in southern Africa.
However, the state of care and maintenance was seen as an opportunity by Orano to supply water to NamWater to assist with Erongo’s water requirements, which had, as a result of the fast developments in the uranium and other sectors, placed undue strain on the region’s scarce water resources.
Gouws noted that currently, the EDP is part of the integrated water infrastructure along the central coast, consisting of the plant and the regional Omdel and Kuiseb aquifers. The EDP is now an important contributor to the overall supply of potable water delivery system managed by NamWater. Orano has contracted Nafasi Water to operate the plant on its behalf.