New mine owner officially takes control

The acquisition of the majority shares by a Chinese company will ensure sustained operations at the world’s longest open-pit uranium mine.

28 July 2019 | Business

Zhang Yiming; Ambassador; Rössing Uranium Mine will continue to provide taxation, employment and technology transfer, and play a prominent role in local economy.

Arandis - Otis Finck

China National Uranium Corporation (CNUC) became the new majority shareholder in Rössing Uranium, following the acquisition of Rio Tinto’s 68.62 percent shareholding recently.

The new owners of the uranium mining giant officially took control of the company and its operations on Thursday.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese ambassador to Namibia Zhang Yiming hailed the acquisition of the mine as an important achievement of China and Namibian cooperation.

“This is a vivid manifestation of the flourishing development of mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation. It is a win-win endeavour for China, Namibia and the United Kingdom. Rio Tinto is selling the mine due to its own global industrial restructuring. As a result, CNNC will increase its overseas uranium resources and ensure China's nuclear energy supply.”

CNUC, with more than 60 years of experience, is the only authorised national uranium production and operations company in China engaged in uranium mining and exploration. The company is a subsidiary of the state owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) a force in the country’s nuclear market with significant involvement in the nuclear supply fuel chain.

Zhang said the continuing operation of the mine is undoubtedly great news for Namibia.

“Rössing Uranium Mine will continue to provide taxation, employment and technology transfer, and play a prominent role in local economy.”

He also dispelled fears that the acquisition of the mine may cause a monopoly of the sector by Chinese companies.

“This worry is not necessary at all. CNNC and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) which acquired Husab Mine are two independent business entities which fiercely compete against each other. A monopoly is thus out of the question.”

Kornelia Shilunga, the deputy minister of mines and energy, commended the leadership of Rössing Uranium, CNUC, CNNC and Rio Tinto for their dedication and resilience to keep the mine alive.

“Rössing alone employs close to 2 000 employees and contractors. It was thus imperative that all the stakeholders take hands and work to keep the wheels turning at the mine.”

She further called for the continuation of efforts to explore and develop opportunities for increased and improved inputs into the mining sector, especially those which can be produced locally, so that sustainability of the Namibian mining sector for generations to come could be ensured.

Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua also welcomed the new majority shareholders with open arms.

“Many times over the past few years, we thought that the mine is closing its doors. This is a happy day for us. We know that this new chapter would allow the business to prosper to the benefit of not only our stakeholders, but also the larger economy of the Erongo region.”

Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals CEO Bold Baatar paid tribute to the Rössing workforce and management team.

“Rössing’s greatest asset has always been its people. Our alumni have grown to be leaders in industry and society across the country, and are helping shape the Namibia of tomorrow.”

Battar said the occasion was a bittersweet moment for him.

“Rössing was one of the key pillars which helped build Rio Tinto into the world leader it is today. The story of Rössing and Rio Tinto is inseparable. While the selling of our shares was not an easy choice to make, it was one that ensured a strong future for the business. With our partners, Rössing will chart a new pathway, sustaining the business for years to come.”

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