Ammonium nitrate emulsion plant for Namibia
First of its kind
26 September 2021 | Business
Sebastian Ndeitunga; Lieutenant General; “With the establishment of this new plant, the local market will reduce the reliance on other countries to supply these products…”
Native Storage Facility in collaboration with Orica Group established the first ammonium nitrate emulsion (ANE) plant outside Rooikop, near Walvis Bay.
The long-term vision is to manufacture mining explosives using inverse emulsification of Ammonium Nitrate technology.
The Orica Group owns and operates the plant and all the equipment, with Native Storage Facility having provided the site and being the manufacturing permit holder.
The mayor of Walvis Bay Trevino Forbes said that the Namibia Ports Authority (Namport) receives large volumes of goods and materials, which are stored at different locations within the harbour area and surrounding warehouse facilities before transportation.
“Some of these goods are classified as dangerous goods by national and international standards. With limited storage capacity for classified dangerous goods, Native Storage Facility constructed three dangerous goods storage warehouses as per the conditions of storage documented in chapter 8 of the regulations under the explosives act, 1956.”
The emulsion manufacturing plant is constructed 800m from the Storage Facility to create a safety radius around the plant as per the recommended safety separation distances.
Forbes said that the project has been welcomed by the regulating authorities in Namibia as a precursor towards the industrialization framework and goal in the mining value chain.
“As council, our concern is always the safety of our people and the environment. We are pleased that this project is based at Rooikop in the Namib Desert. We have been assured that there will be no significant impact on vegetation and various safety measures from best practices have been implemented.”
Zak Kotze of the Orica Group explained that security of supply means that customers no longer need to import product with trucks at significant cost to stockpile onsite.
“The plant manufactures a bulk product so depending on the required quantity, it's three to eight times more cost effective than packaged explosives.”
He said that from a safety perspective, ammonium nitrate emulsion is a non-flammable viscous liquid that requires very specific conditions of pressure and temperature to eventually detonate.
“Orica's ANE is extremely safe for transportation, due to the water content of the formulations utilised worldwide. We offer state-of-the-art bulk technologies for both surface and underground operations. These products together with the whole technology portfolio of Orica will help our customers to improve safety conditions on their operations, which will reduce drill and blast costs, optimising energy to obtain desired blasting outcomes and to improve productivity along their value chain.”
Kotze added that the plant presents an opportunity to increase local collaboration and upskill the Namibian community in the mining industry, specifically with regard to ANE production.
“Out of the eight to ten employees being appointed at the production plant, will be Namibian citizens.”
Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, the Inspector-General of the Namibian police on behalf of the minister of home affairs Albert Kawana, stated that with the exception of a few mining companies which produce emulsion for their own operations, there was no other local supply of emulsion to the market.
“With this new plant, the local market will reduce the reliance on other countries to supply these products and will also be able to export some to other countries in the region and beyond. I am very optimistic that this plant will add value to Namibia’s gross domestic product and will contribute to the reduction of unemployment in the country.”
Ndeitunga emphasised that the establishment of the plant did not come easy.
“Native Storage Facility and Orica followed a very long and cumbersome process of satisfying the set standards and regulations to operate a manufacturing plant of such magnitude, in terms of the Explosives Act 1956 and Explosives Regulation 1972 for this factory to become a reality.”