Innovation helps LHU thrive in economic downtime

Langer Heinrich uranium (LHU) is home to what is believed to be the world’s first nano-filtration membrane plant in the uranium industry, to recover used sodium bicarbonate from a uranium concentrated eluate stream. This innovation means the mine uses less sodium bicarbonate, by reusing.

This was revealed by LHU’s Metallurgical Superintendent Tyrone Kotze, when recently he addressed an audience at the International Uranium Conference. The Conference was hosted by the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM), in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), the Namibian Uranium Institute (NUI) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Swakopmund. According to Kotze, the Bicarbonate Recovery Plant (BRP) reduces the use of new bicarbonate, by recycling the reagent back into the process. It makes the process much more cost effective.

Designed by BMS Engineers, the BRP was commissioned in 2015 with the primary aim of reducing the total amount of sodium bicarbonate, one of the required chemicals used during uranium processing. Undertaken during a period of steadily declining uranium prices, and capital scarcity, the BRP demonstrates the notion that with calculated risks comes greater rewards.

The BRP has contributed to LHU’s direct saving on sodium bicarbonate costs, which fell from US$13 per pound to just over US$6 per pound, and at the same time reduced its process operating significantly. Namibia is currently ranked the fifth-largest producer of uranium in the world, and is set to become the world’s second largest producer once Swakop Uranium’s Husab Mine is fully operational. This will undoubtedly position Namibia as a major uranium mining hub and will see the industry playing a more significant role in the national and regional economies.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login