Article intéressant sur la production de l'uranium dans cette région du monde.
L'industrie nucléaire qui construit des usines de dessalement d'eau pour les mines, aurait intérêts à fournir de l'eau potable aux habitants vivant près des mines. Elle pourrait aussi participer au développement local et améliorer les conditions de vie des habitants.
Medvedev visits Namibia with eye on uranium
Uranium deposits in Namibia's deserts, which could make the country a top producer of the nuclear fuel, are drawing growing foreign interest, seen in this week's visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The first-ever visit by a Kremlin chief on Wednesday and Thursday is expected to include a delegation of hundreds, with an emphasis on reviving cooperation in uranium mining and energy production.
"The whole energy issue will be discussed," Namibia's charge d'affaires in Moscow told AFP.
Russia has shown interest in Namibia since 2007. An exploration license was awarded to a joint venture led by Tekhsabexport, a Russian state firm that sells uranium. Moscow offered Namibia its controversial technology for floating nuclear plants.
"Nothing has happened" since then, said Robin Sherbourne, group economist for South Africa's Nedbank in Windhoek. "We'll see what happens this time."
Such projects are spreading across this southern African country, which aims to benefit from renewed global interest in nuclear power with its large uranium deposits, which are currently mined at only two locations.
The main mine, Rossing, runs five kilometres (three miles) long and 350 metres (1,100 feet) deep -- but was threatened with closure in 2003 when prices for uranium oxide plunged to nearly nothing as the global supply was inflated by enriched nuclear fuel from the former Soviet Union.
But fears of climate change have revived the search for carbon-neutral energy, sending uranium prices back up.
More than 40 reactors are being built in 11 countries, notably in Russia. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects that at least 70 nuclear power stations will be built around the world in the next 15 years, doubling the global supply of nuclear energy.
Rossing -- majority owned by Australian giant Rio with a 68.6 percent stake, but with a 15 percent stake held by Iran, 10 percent by South Africa, and three percent by Namibia -- announced a 112 million dollar expansion in 2006.
The same year, Australia's Paladin Energy re-opened the Langer Heinrich mine, also located near the Atlantic coast.
That has propelled Namibia to the top ranks of global producers, behind only Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia, with output 4,366 tonnes of uranium oxide -- representing 10 percent of the world's production.
And the industry's growth is just beginning. The government awarded three licenses last year, and the French group Areva in 2007 bought the Namibian firm holding exploration Trekkopje, where production is expected to begin by year end.
"Namibia could increase its production to 42 million pounds (a four-fold increase) within five years, which could make us Number 1," Sherbourne said.
To achieve that, Namibia first must tackle two major obstacles.
The desert has no water needed to control the dust and radiation from the mines. Areva has built a desalination plant on the Atlantic coast, which could eventually meet the growing needs.
The country also lacks enough energy. Namibia already imports half of its electricity from South Africa, which is suffering an energy crisis itself.
Windhoek is considering new coal or gas-fired plants, and has floated the idea of building a nuclear plant by 2018.