Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

2 November 2012

Namibia: Mining Takes Lion's Share in New Investments

Namibia expects investment in the region of US$3.5 billion in its mining sector over the next five years, with the sector accounting for 15% of the country's total economic output.

According to the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, Willem Isaacks, mining is indeed a key sector of the economy, contributing around 15% to Namibia's Gross Domestic Product and accounting for over 50% of the country's total export earnings.

"While Namibia is endowed with valuable natural marine resources that are in huge demand all over the world, the government realises the need to protect these resources so that they can be sustainably exploited for the benefit of Namibia and its people," he said.

"We expect those who invest in the Namibian mining sector to act responsibly while enabling Namibia to benefit from the development of its natural marine resources. In the same vein they must explore and develop pragmatic solutions for integration of new industries with existing industries without detrimental effects on the other," he added.

He further said that the Namibian Government encourages and has put in place various measures to attract foreign direct investment in its mining sector, but will not tolerate irresponsible mining operations or any activities that harm its environment or other key sectors of its economy.

Speaking at the official opening of the Namibian Phosphate Walvis Bay Head Office earlier this week, the deputy minister said that the company intends to develop the world's first marine phosphate project off the coast and will seek to establish Namibia as a premier rock phosphate producer, contributing to the economy and supporting ongoing crop production through the provision of phosphorus for fertiliser.

Namibian Marine Phosphate has invested approximately N$80 million on exploration and testing to date. According to the Feasibility Study completed in 2012, the capital expenditure is expected to cost around N$3.2 billion over the first 3 years. Operating costs at full production are expected to be approximately N$1.4million per year.

The Deputy Minister indicated that the exploration company has been granted a mining license by his ministry on condition that it satisfies all the necessary requirements, and the company must still obtain an Environmental clearance to be able to start with its actual operations.

"I am informed that the company is busy taking all the necessary steps and providing all the required documentation and data to ensure that it complies with the requirements. An Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan for the Marine component of the operation have been submitted to the relevant authorities and now awaits the government to grant it an Environmental contract," he said.

The CEO of Namibian Marine Phosphate, Barnabas Uugwanga said Namibia is fortunate to be gifted with world class natural resources of fish and minerals in its ocean and that the company is committed to help Namibia to benefit from the development of all its natural marine resources, and to explore and develop pragmatic solutions for integration of new industries with existing industries.

"We are well aware and take note of the concerns that have been raised mainly by the fishing industry and other interested parties on the possible impacts that our activities can have on other existing industries. Let me assure you that Namibia Marine Phosphate is a responsible Namibian company that supports government's objective to sustainably exploit the country's resources for the benefit of all Namibian people," he said.

The project is expected to employ 400 to 500 workers during the construction phase and is expected to have a final permanent work force of about 150 persons directly employed with an additional 200 indirect jobs created.

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