CHINESE company ECE wants Government to enable it to obtain work permits for as many foreign employees as it needs for a planned iron ore mine and industrial park in the Kunene Region.
This is just one of the demands made by a delegation from Eastern China Non-Ferrous Metals Investment Holding (ECE) in a project proposal presented to Prime Minister Hage Geingob in Windhoek last week. The delegation, sent to brief Government on the ECE's investments in Namibia, was led by Ziran Zhong, a chief engineer in China's Ministry of Land and Resources.
ECE last year discovered a deposit of 3 268 billion tonnes of iron ore at the Orumana village, some 30 kilometres south of Opuwo in the Kunene Region, and is planning to construct a multi-billion dollar industrial complex near Opuwo.
The company is also calling on Government not to apply import tariffs on production equipment and goods for investment imported for the planned industrial park. It also wants to be exempted from export tax on the products manufactured and processed in the planned industrial park.
In its project proposal, the ECE furthermore asks Government to allow all products produced and processed by enterprises in the industrial park to have access to the Namibian market.
It further proposed that land approval procedures for investors in the industrial park be simplified, and that the investors not be charged any rent for the first six months of the operation of the industrial park, after which it seeks a lease term of 99 years, among other things. Further support the ECE seeks from Government includes preferential policies on income tax and value-added tax (VAT).
Briefing the Prime Minister, ECE executive chairman Yi Shao said if everything goes well, the projects would contribute US$700 million (about N$6,2 billion) to Namibia's gross domestic product (GDP), and employ about 5 000 Namibians.
"As Namibia is aiming to be an industrialised country in the near future, the development of iron ore resources and the construction of industrial parks will be the best promotion for the country towards industrialisation," he said.
The company is busy with the exploration of iron ore resources in Opuwo, and has already been granted an exclusive prospecting licence (EPL) by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
According to its project proposal, the company has so far invested US$20 million (about N$177 million) in geological and geophysical prospecting, drilling and trench work.
The proposal indicated that iron ore resources found are of a low grade and complex composition, but the ore structure has great influence upon beneficiation.
"The good news is that China has already mastered the development and utilisation of iron ore resources," the ECE said.
The industrial park will mainly focus on iron ore mining and steel smelting, supported by related industries, including section bar processing, machinery, trade, logistics and hotels, amongst other things.
On his part, Geingob said Government welcomes projects in the country, as long as investors obeyed the country's laws.
"We have a problem of land. Land is a very sensitive issue here, as Namibians were deprived of their land for too long," he said.
He also told the visiting delegation that the country is faced with an unemployment problem, and will not allow foreigners to do jobs Namibians could do.
"You can bring in expertise, but not employ foreigners in jobs that Namibians are capable of doing. This will poison the longstanding relations between the two countries," Geingob said.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila briefed the visiting delegation on preferential taxes, importation taxes and export taxes, while Minister of Trade and Industry Calle Schlettwein said the concept of an industrial park is a very exciting proposal.