NamClay production under threat due to water shortage

Namibia’s biggest clay brick company NamClay will have to cut down their production if the water shortage at Uis is not resolved.

The company has blamed this on the mines in the area that are reportedly pumping too much water.

Uis has a total of 11 boreholes providing water to the area, but only four are currently operational due to a combination of broken pipes and theft.

The company, which uses waste products abandoned by previous mines to make bricks, produces over 80 000 bricks a day, amounting to an estimated 1,4 million bricks per month.

Speaking to The Namibian last week, NamClay managing member Albert Weitz, Junior says the shortage of water in the area poses a challenge.

“Water is life and the water shortage has created the main problem for us, which means we have to cut down our production. The mining activity that is now busy in the community has depleted our water table in the boreholes.

“We only use borehole water to create these bricks; municipal water is only used for water consumption by our employees. It does pose a difficult challenge for us, especially with the new projects that are coming up.

“Uis is not known to have a lot of rain every year, so the water table is not picking up, but is going down.

“Hopefully, there will be some solutions going forth in trying to mitigate this problem that we have with water,” he said.

Weitz told The Namibian that the town needs investment to tackle the issue of water, especially with the surge of mining companies in the area.

“The biggest challenge that we face is the finance of the water line to be built, so we need investments or someone who is able to assist with that.

The mine itself uses a lot of water, and that is the main reason why our water table has gone down.

“In order for us to mitigate dust during our production, we have to use water, and without water, it is a challenge.

There were 11 boreholes and only four are operating in Uis because people are stealing the pumps, pipes are broken and the water table has reduced.

“That problem needs to be fixed, otherwise the water flow will not be sufficient for the residents, especially with the mines that are going to deplete the water source,” he said.

NamClay Bricks and Pavers was formed in 2006 by a father and son team who saw a future in the form of the mine slime dam of the Uis tin mine.

Part of the process to extract ore from rock entails washing pulverised stone from which the ore is separated.

Once the ore is separated, the remaining material is pumped into what is known as a slime dam.

The father and son team had the insight that bricks could be made from the clay.

They would be harder than many bricks and carry the rich, decorative colour of Namibian clay.

So far, the company has provided jobs to more than 60 local people at Uis, with the goal to employ more.

Schools, hospitals and military bases have been built with NamClay bricks.

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