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Exploring Dalur Mine: A Sustainable Mining Marvel

Namibia’s mineral-rich landscapes have long been the backbone of its economy, but beneath the surface lies an industry at a crossroads.

Bokkie Thorburn, a stalwart of Namibia’s mining scene, shares his remarkable journey to the JSC Dalur mine in Russia, shedding light on a groundbreaking approach to mining that could revolutionise the Namibian landscape.

Mining Legacy
in Namibia
With a career spanning 32 years, I’ve witnessed Namibia’s mining industry evolve and flourish. As the main shareholder of K Neumayer Civil Contractors, our journey began with subcontracting for South Africa’s major players.

It was a defining moment when Namdeb entrusted us to construct their Sendelingsdrift Mine processing plant, making us the first Namibian contractor to build an entire mine processing facility.

Our portfolio boasts collaborations with Rössing Uranium, Husab Uranium, Langer Heinrich Uranium, Rosh Pinah Zinc, Namdeb, Skorpion Zinc, Walvis Bay Salt Refiners and Navachab Gold Mine.

In 2017, I was honoured with the businessman of the year award in the mining industry and inducted into the Namibian Business Hall of Fame. While I’ve since ventured into farming in the Hardap region, my heart remains tethered to the Namibian mining industry through K Neumayer Civil Contractors.

Revelation in Russia
Recently, I embarked on a journey to Russia, with a diverse group of stakeholders, to explore a mining method unfamiliar to Namibia: in-situ leaching.

This process, though over six decades old, is new to our nation. Instead of conventional mining, crushing and excavation, it entails minimal surface disturbance, employing boreholes, pipelines and a compact final processing plant.

Our voyage to Dalur mine, Russia, involved a three-day journey followed by an overnight stop in Chelyabinsk City.

Afterwards, our 11-hour facility inspection commenced, starting with rigorous security protocols and an informative presentation on Dalur’s operations, highlighting their International Organisation for Standardisation certifications and top-tier quality awards.

The comprehensive tour included visits to extraction sites, accumulation ponds, pipelines, absorption and regeneration plants, sedimentation, filtration, and drying facilities. We also explored Dalur’s commitment to local communities, witnessing their support through accommodation, a well-equipped mine canteen, and a fully furnished school with a focus on skill development.

What struck me most about Dalur was its unparalleled commitment to eco-friendliness. With over 5 000 days without a lost-time injury, they’ve demonstrated that safety is non-negotiable.

Their strict adherence to ISO standards and impeccable safety procedures serve as a benchmark for the industry.

While our group lacked technical experts in the field, I’ve extended invitations to accomplished chemical and process engineers from Namibia to explore this innovative technology at the upcoming Mining Expo in Windhoek.

Changing Perceptions
Growing up, I, like many, held preconceived notions about Russia. But our visit shattered those stereotypes.

Russia is not the enemy; they are far from rude, and their people are not starving.

After a journey spanning over 30 000 kilometres, we found ourselves inspired by what Namibia can learn from Russia.

In closing, Dalur mine represents a beacon of hope for the Namibian mining industry.

It’s a testament to innovation, sustainability, and safety. As we navigate the path ahead, let us draw inspiration from Dalur’s success and consider the profound changes it could bring to our mineral-rich nation.