Langer Heinrich back with a bang

Restart on track
Namibia boasts abundant uranium deposits, hosting substantial mines that have the capacity to contribute up to 10% of the global uranium mining production.
Jo-Maré Duddy
Paladin Energy’s Langer Heinrich Mine in the Namib has a significant competitive advantage over greenfields uranium projects globally as the plant is established and has a proven operational track record, the Australian-based company said in its 2023 Sustainability Report.
Paladin owns 75% of the Langer Heinrich Mine (LHM), and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) the remaining 25%.
LHM’s restart project is now well advanced, and remains on track and on budget for first production in the first quarter of next year. The restart project capital expenditure of US$118 million – about N$2.2 billion at the current exchange rate – is being focused on repairs, refurbishments and debottlenecking projects, Paladin said.
Namibia boasts abundant uranium deposits, hosting substantial mines that have the capacity to contribute up to 10% of the global uranium mining production. Since 1976, uranium has been consistently extracted in Namibia, benefiting from a dependable mining and uranium regulatory framework, the company added.
“The LHM is a globally significant, long life operation, having already produced over 43Mlb [million pounds] U3O8 to date. The LHM has a planned 17 year mine life, with target production of 6Mlb of U3O8 per annum during peak production for a total life of mine production target of 77.4Mlb,” Paladin said.

Restart plan, policies

In July 2022, Paladin made the announcement of reviving LHM for production. As of 30 September 2023, Paladin maintains a robust financial position, with no corporate debt and a surplus of US$99.8 million in unrestricted cash.
“Paladin’s strong balance sheet has provided the funding for the LHM Restart Project,” the company said.
Paladin added: “The decision to restart the LHM was underpinned by a well-defined mine restart plan, the strong and growing uranium offtake portfolio and excellent uranium market fundamentals and funding.
“The successful uranium marketing strategy has delivered cornerstone offtakes with leading global counterparties. Paladin has secured cornerstone offtakes with foundation customers and has six offtake agreements executed with top tier counterparties in the US, Europe and China.”
Paladin has firmly implemented policies, procedures, systems and processes, supported by a robust governance and reporting structure. As LHM moves closer to resuming production, Paladin has been actively incorporating new policies and refining existing ones to align with the evolving project needs, Paladin said.

Environmental monitoring

Environmental monitoring is undertaken across all of Paladin’s locations.
During the exploration phase and leading up to the resumption of production at LHM, minimal quantities of water, waste, energy and greenhouse gas emissions are generated or utilised. Additionally, the impact on air quality and land disruption is negligible, according to the company.
Upon the commencement of production at LHM, there will be an increase in energy consumption, primarily associated with uranium mining and processing.
The primary energy-consuming factors will include fuel-fired heating, electrical power requirements, and automotive fuel usage. Direct emissions (Scope 1) will mainly result from on-site fuel-fired heating and the use of automotive diesel for mining and support services.
Indirect emissions (Scope 2) will be influenced by the amount of power acquired from NamPower. NamPower operates within the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), the largest multilateral energy platform on the African continent, and its electricity supply incorporates energy derived from the Ruacana hydroelectric power station and other renewable energy sources.


LHM obtains its water supply from Namibia's water utility, NamWater.
Process water is mainly procured through a formal agreement between NamWater and the Orano Desalination Plant. NamWater has conducted studies regarding the potential use of the NamWater SS1 desalination plant as a prospective water source in the future, Paladin said.
Throughout the fiscal year 2023, LHM diligently conducted an extensive sampling and monitoring initiative for groundwater levels and quality, in accordance with the approved Groundwater Monitoring Plan to meet regulatory obligations.
The groundwater levels were gauged at monitoring boreholes, starting from the top of the borehole casing and reported in meters below the casing's top. This data was routinely assessed to detect any impact on local water resources and to ensure compliance with license limits.
All water monitoring data was securely stored in a centralized database and compiled into annual water reports. The results of the monitoring programme for the reporting period indicate that all tested parameters remained within the established baseline ranges, with no unfavourable trends identified, Paladin said.


LHM enlisted the expertise of third-party groundwater specialists, SLR, to carry out a comprehensive groundwater quality assessment. This assessment encompassed the monitoring and measurement of both groundwater resource levels and quality, according to Paladin.
The findings from SLR confirmed that there were no significant changes in groundwater conditions during the post-care and maintenance phase compared to the pre-care and maintenance conditions. This can be attributed to the effective water recovery pumping maintained by LHM throughout the care and maintenance period, the company added.
SLR also provided valuable recommendations to support operational readiness, which will be implemented to enhance performance as LHM transitions into production.
In addition to the groundwater assessment, SLR conducted a comprehensive site-wide borehole survey to ensure the ongoing validity and relevance of the monitoring network, especially as the current borehole network expands during production.
LHM possesses a permit to extract groundwater from the Swakop River. However, during the fiscal year 2023, no water was abstracted under this permit.
As part of the restart project, there is a focus on identifying opportunities to reduce water consumption during operations through equipment modifications, enhanced recycling, and improved drainage efficiencies, thereby minimising the need for groundwater abstraction, Paladin said.

Air quality

LHM remains steadfast in its commitment to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts on air quality resulting from operational activities, Paladin said.
Throughout the year, LHM maintained stringent measures, including monitoring vehicle speeds and reducing the number and traffic flow of vehicles on access and internal roads. Once the mine is operational, LHM will reinstate monthly monitoring of Total Suspended Dust Particles (TSP) and other pertinent measures.
As a vital component of the restart project, LHM has engaged an independent third party to conduct a specialised study on the requirements of the monitoring network. This initiative aims to ensure that all commitments and operational objectives are met during the production phase.

Power demand

The escalation in global electricity demand is being fuelled by the swift adoption of technology, the electrification of transportation in advanced economies, and the increasing living standards in emerging economies, Paladin said.
This surge in electricity demand, combined with the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is fostering a heightened interest in low-carbon electricity sources, the company added.
According to Paladin, when assessing the lifecycle GHG emissions of various energy sources and technologies, nuclear power emerges as a remarkable contender with an exceptionally low GHG emissions intensity.
Its emission levels are on par with renewable sources like wind, hydro, and solar, and they can be up to 100 times lower than those of coal, it added.
While renewable sources are heavily influenced by weather conditions, leading to daily and seasonal fluctuations that can significantly disrupt their energy productivity and reliability, nuclear power proves to be the most efficient, dependable, and effective energy source. Its availability can be up to three times greater than that of wind and solar, Paladin said.
Despite the increasing market share of renewable sources like wind and solar in the global energy mix, the low emission intensity and higher capacity factor of nuclear power will ensure that nuclear power, and consequently uranium, will retain their pivotal roles in carbon-free, base-load power generation as the world advances towards decarbonisation.
Nuclear power plants do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions during their operation, and in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per unit of electricity, nuclear power is nearly on par with wind and only one-third of the emissions associated with solar power, according to Paladin.


Geopolitical developments and the growing urgency of decarbonisation measures are exerting mounting pressure for transformation within global energy markets. The role of nuclear power in ensuring energy security and addressing global warming is progressively gaining significance, Paladin said.
Nuclear energy presently stands as the second-largest contributor to global clean energy, characterised by a nearly negligible carbon footprint, according to the company.
In 2022, nuclear energy played a pivotal role in furnishing roughly half of the USA's carbon-free electricity. This enduring support for nuclear energy transcends political boundaries, with bipartisan backing in the United States translating into regulatory endorsement.
The Inflation Reduction Act, for instance, extends tax credits for clean nuclear energy on par with other clean energy sources, signifying a considerable influence on US utility companies. Consequently, these companies have shown heightened activity in the long-term uranium market since the act's enactment.
Further afield, the European Union (EU) has acknowledged nuclear energy as environmentally friendly within its taxonomy legislation, solidifying increased support for nuclear power, Paladin said.
Meanwhile, China's demand for uranium continues to grow, aligning with its dedication to nuclear energy. It's anticipated that Chinese demand will escalate from 18% to 35% of global requirements by the year 2040, it estimates.