NAMIBIAN businessman Knowledge Katti's plan to revive the old tin and tantalite mine at Uis is still waiting for an official agreement with the local small miners before its realisation is approved by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
"The agreements with the small miners are not signed yet but hopefully will be finalised soon," he told The Namibian after being approached for an update on the N$200 million investment in cooperation with Finnish investors.
Last year, Katti struck a deal with Finnish company Procomex and the local partners, Procomex Namibia (Pty) Ltd, of which he is the director. The Brandberg Small Miners' Association based at Uis will be key beneficiaries of the proposed new mining operations.
The mine belonged to South Africa's steel giant Iskor and was opened in 1960. It was a huge operation with very low yield in that every 85 000 tonnes of rock mined would only yield about 1,4 tonnes of tin.
"But South Africa needed it. When sanctions set in, there was no trade with global markets, so Uis became one of the contributors of tin for the country's very dynamic steel industry. However, when the sanctions were lifted in 1990, tin was again available for much cheaper on the global market and so Iscor just pulled out," an Uis resident explained to the newspaper.
At the moment the mine is desolate and the infrastructure ruined, but last year Katti announced that preparatory technical work, which includes the construction of a new processing plant, the rehabilitation of the water infrastructure and modernisation of electrical connections by NamPower, will be done.
He also said that engineers and technical personnel have already started with the sampling of additional resources and the testing of available water sources to determine the nature of the processing plants that will be used to extract the tin and tantalum from the mined gravel.
There are mixed opinions though over the profitability of a new mine. Some say that due to the low yield, it will be "economically unsustainable" while others state that there was still enough resources that could be of benefit to the local economy and its investors.
After Katti announced the deal last year, sources at Uis say some well-off Namibians started approaching the Village Council to buy properties with the hope of cashing in when the mine starts to operate.