26 April 2018

Namibia: Government to Ensure Better Investment Climate for Mining

Minister of mines and energy Tom Alweendo says government will ensure that the investment climate is conducive to attracting manufacturers of intermediary and semi-finished products for value addition at home.

He said this in a statement delivered on his behalf by the ministry's permanent secretary Simeon Negumbo at the 2018 mining expo that kicked off in Windhoek yesterday. He also added that the above would be a cooperation between government and the private sector.

Alweendo stressed that government is concerned with the export of natural resources without adding value and "I have already expressed myself that I intend to take up this matter as priority number one. I am fully aware of the industry's position on this matter that 'miners are not manufacturers and manufacturers are not miners'.

"While this is true, I would like to believe that the mining industry still has a big role to play, to ensure that manufactures of intermediary and semi-finished products succeed."

He further said mining should support such industries by making minerals from the mines available to such manufacturing plants, and on commercial terms, saying he is aware of the Chamber of Mines' proposals to advance value addition.

"The proposal to establish a joint value addition committee which was later enshrined in the fourth National Development Plan was a great idea from the chamber. I understand two independent study reports have been produced with recommendations on all minerals produced in Namibia and others under exploration stage," he said.

He gave the assurance that government is committed to concluding the minerals beneficiation strategy as the final deliverable, adding that due to government's tight financial position, the ministry has not been able to conduct the necessary field trips to a galvanizing plant in South Africa and a copper wire fabrication plant in Zambia.

"It is envisaged that experiences from these missions will greatly shape new policy proposals on how Namibia could attract similar investors. I look forward to working with the industry to conclude this priority matter, hopefully in the course of this year.

"Similarly, I have taken note of the opportunities that lie in the upstream industries and the potential to create jobs with SMEs and other suppliers of goods and services. I am glad to learn that mining spends over 40% of total revenue on local suppliers.

"This is commendable, especially with the high unemployment levels in the country. The fight against poverty is about job creation and every job counts," Alweendo said in the statement.

Speaking at the same event, chairman of the Namibian petroleum operators Uaapi Utjavari said Namibia is under-explored in terms of petroleum, with only 15 offshore exploration wells drilled to date.

He said despite the country being underexplored, it has a significant oil and gas potential as proven by the Kudu Gas field in the Orange basin.

"The discovery was made in 1974. In 2012 there was also a technical discovery made in Walvis Bay by a Brazilian company called HRT. We say it was a technical discovery and not a commercial discovery because it propelled Namibia away from being perceived as a purely gas prone area to a much more oil prone area," Utjavari said.

- charmaine@namibian.com.na

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