Located some 50 km inland from Swakopmund in Namibia is the Rossing Uranium Mine, the world's largest single producer of a low-grade uranium. The mine has been developed by the Rio Tinto-Zinc group. The first oxide was extracted in 1976, since when the mine's fortunes have fluctuated along with world prices. Most of the uranium is sold to Europe, Japan and Taiwan on long-term contracts. In 1994 a deal was struck with Electricite de France which ensured survival through to 2001, and the recent change of management saw promises made to keep the mine open for another seven years. Once the reserves are eventually exhausted the mine is committed to a major environmental clean-up project; while it will not be difficult to dismantle machinery and housing, how best to deal with the giant hole in the ground is another matter.
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