A favourite project: the Husab Mine Access Road

When our Husab Mine Access Road project was completed in June 2014, it boasted the longest bridge to be constructed since Namibia’s independence and was recognised for how it handled an environmentally sensitive area. But this infrastructure project is notable at Lithon Namibia for another reason – and is an all-time favourite of CEO Gert Maritz.

The objective of the project was to provide safe and easy access to the Husab Mine, one of the largest uranium mines in the world. To do this, we designed and constructed a 22 km surfaced road and 160 m bridge over the Khan river. As project manager during the feasibility and planning stages and full-time resident engineer during construction, Gert has unique insights into this large-scale undertaking. We caught up with him to find out why the Husab Mine Access Road is the stand-out project of his long career.

What makes this your favourite project?

I was excited to use my engineering skills and talents to contribute to infrastructure that would advance the economy and help uplift communities. The project was also technically interesting, as it contained a multitude of engineering components, not typically present on road projects. And to top it off, the location was spectacular and resulted in a very scenic route.

The access road is in an environmentally sensitive area. How did this impact the project?

We surveyed the protected tree species in the area (including the acacias) and incorporated them into the design. The horizontal alignment of the road was designed to minimise the need to remove protected trees, and the project was subsequently credited for its tree preservation efforts.

What other challenges did you face?

The road had to pass through a series of hills, which posed a challenge for construction. We had to blast through these hills to make way for the road, which resulted in the removal of 96 000 m3 of hard rock over a short 2 km stretch. We also had to construct a 3 km section of the road within the Khan river itself. Although it’s a non-perennial river and doesn’t flood annually, we still had to take precautions during construction. We used gabions (steel boxes filled with rocks) to protect the bulk of the road against flooding during and after construction. 

Were there any other memorable moments on the project?

At the turn of the 19th century, the Germans constructed a railway line that transported goods from Swakopmund to Windhoek, and this included a railway station at the Khan Bridge site. During construction, we unearthed pieces of the old railway track – and railway embankments that are still there to this day. 

What are you most proud of in terms of this project?

We finished on time and within budget, thanks to a great effort from everyone involved – including the client (Swakop Uranium), the contractor (Basil Read Construction), and Lithon’s design and site team.

Road and transport infrastructure specialists

As experts in road, airport and rail infrastructure, Lithon Project Consultants is proud to be part of projects that positively impact economies and communities. Our dynamic team is able to expertly navigate the entire project process, from feasibility studies and planning to construction supervision and project management. If you’d like to find out more, please view our project portfolio or get in touch with our team today.