…..that last Saturday was “take your wife to work day??” David had to work a half-day on Saturday and asked if I would like to go and see the project (or sandbox as we jokingly call it). I was excited and jumped at the opportunity. It is rare that I get to see what keeps my husband busy during the week.
I am excited to be able to share photos of the mine as well. It is difficult to really grasp what David does for work. Yes,most people know that we live in interesting places throughout the world and that David works on large international construction projects but until one sees it, one really cannot completely appreciate the size of the projects he both engineers and builds.
David’s current project is managing the engineering and construction of a uranium mine. According to studies, the Husab Mine is of the highest grade and has the potential to produce up to 6800 tons a year. The predictions are that it will take 20 years to completely mine it all. This will make it the second largest uranium mine in the world after McArthur River in Canada and…….my husband helped build it 🙂 The uranium produced will be used for nuclear power plants.
Before we got to the road that would take us into the mine, we followed the long pipeline – approximately 30 miles of it – that will carry water from the ocean to the project. Once it gets closer to the mine, the ocean water will be desalinated so that it can be used in the mining process.
For as far as you can see:
This is the road driving to the mine.
Once I got my paperwork processed, went through safety orientation and with my little site map in hand, off we went to explore the construction site. The site is 4 miles wide and 14 miles long. In a real simplified version of the mining process, it starts at the open pit where the rock is blasted and hauled away by huge, and I mean huge, dump trucks. See what I mean???
It is taken to a crusher where it is crushed into smaller pieces. These pieces are then moved along by a long conveyor belt to the stockpile. At the stockpile, the rocks are placed in a mill and ground down to even smaller particles of about 1 millimeter and mixed with water until it is a consistency of mud. This mud passes through a series of processes, each one requires large tanks. Once the process is completed, uranium is produced.
As we drove around the site, I was amazed and impressed by my husband’s knowledge and how simple he was able to explain it to me, so I could understand the whole process. This is the ariel view at 40% completion.
David has often said that he loves his job and considers it his hobby. Seeing the project, I can sort of understand. I mean it the ultimate Lego Project or Erector Set for the “big boys”. In Johannesburg, he was overseeing the design of this mine and now, he is overseeing the building of it. It must be so rewarding to see all of the work he put into the design coming to fruition.
I know you will agree with me that this is very impressive but I will let you in on a little “family secret”. My wonderful, amazing husband can build these multi-billion dollar projects, oversee thousands of employees and contractors but he can’t pound a nail or pack a suitcase. We always have a good laugh over this. That is where I come in 🙂 He needs me to get him organized and truth be told, when it comes to small home repairs, I am more mechanically inclined than he is!
The mine is actually located in the Namib-Naukluft National Park and for that reason, there is no driving at night so the wildlife will be protected from vehicles. There is also a “back road” to get to the project which we took and were able to see many of the Welwitschia plants.
When we visited Swakopmund, last Christmas, I went on a half-day tour to see the Welwitschia plants and Moon Valley. Since David had to work that day, he had not seen the plants. I was excited to share them with him. For those of you who missed the first posting, the Welwitschia is Namibia’s national plant that is protected by government regulations.
The plant is actually a tree that has been dwarfed by the harsh desert conditions. The “trunk” of the tree grows between 6 to 9 ft in the ground in the shape of a cone. It only has two leaves that split as they grow. The plant never sheds the leaves, they just curl as they die. They are very investing plants and I am so glad that David finally got to see them.
Before returning to Swakopmund, we took a side road to see where it would lead. Again, I was excited because David got to see the Moon Valley that was also on the tour. I am almost certain we broke a law or two while exploring as I believe that we were driving on roads that required a permit by the Namibian government. Oh well, next time, we will make certain to get one.
It was a lovely day and ended with a glass of wine watching the sun melt, yet again, into the ocean.