IWC recently completed the construction of one of its largest ever glass-fiber reinforced plastics (GRP) tanks measuring 6 m (19 ft) in diameter and 11 m (36 ft) high, capable of holding up to 254,000 liters. The length of the cylinder in this tank is 9 m. IWC said its GRP manufacturing facility in Isando, Gauteng, can manufacture sizes in length up to 14 m in a single filament-wound process.

This 19-ft-diameter, 36-ft-long GRP tank is going into service in a solvent extraction circuit at the Husab uranium mine. This 19-ft-diameter, 36-ft-long GRP tank is going into service in a solvent extraction circuit at the Husab uranium mine.

The GRP tank was designed for Swakop Uranium’s new $2 billion Husab uranium mine, near Swakopmund, Namibia, and will be used in the mine’s acid-leach process plant as part of the solvent extraction (SX) procedure. The GRP tank will store highly corrosive chemical contents, including sulphuric acid.

Roger Rusch, CEO of IWC, said, “IWC has already designed and manufactured 8 kilometers of GRP piping and 17 GRP tanks for the mine’s process plant, but none as big as this one. It took six weeks to manufacture the tank and the IWC team will now supervise its installation.”

Glass-reinforced plastic is a composite material claimed to be highly resistant to all forms of corrosion, making it ideally suited to solvent extraction processes.

The Husab mine is owned by the world’s second-largest uranium producer, Swakop Uranium, and will have the potential to produce around 7,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of uranium when fully operational in two years.

According to Swakop Uranium’s CEO, Zheng Keping, Namibia—currently the world’s fifth-largest producer of uranium—will overtake Niger and Australia as top producer by 2017 due to the production capability of the Husab mine.

IWC, originally known as Industrial Water Cooling, designs and manufactures a wide range of GRP products and also conducts repairs and refurbishment projects and other associated services.

In addition to the GRP pipe production plant based in Germiston, IWC has a second GRP manufacturing facility in Isando, Ekhuruleni that focuses on specialized GRP fabrications. This facility, according to the company, is capable of producing 450 tons of finished product per annum, including freestanding GRP cells and GRP liners for electrolytic and electrowinning metal refineries; scrubbers, cooling towers, process vessels and storage tanks; piping, fittings and ducting; GRP overwrapped thermoplastics and fluoro-plastics; chimney stacks; underground storage tanks; firewater mains; and GRP corrosion-resistant linings.