Windhoek — Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, is concerned about recent job losses within the mining sector and has called on Namibian mining executives to brainstorm on how to retain employment for Namibians as well as to create prospects for unemployed graduates to benefit from the country's extractive resources. Alweendo expressed his concern during a briefing with mining industry executives in Windhoek yesterday.
"I have witnessed with pain, the several retrenchments and mines going on care and maintenance and hope that we can at some point put our minds together to see how we can avoid job losses especially to our Namibian workforce. At the same time, I also would like us to see how practically we can create opportunities for the many unemployed graduates in the different fields, particularly the youth," said Alweendo.
The mines minister continued that while the industry has not been doing very well, due to unfavourable commodity prices for some minerals, and has faced numerous challenges, including water and power constraints as well as depleting deposits, mining activities in our country continue to contribute significantly to the domestic economy and the various national development agendas.
Alweendo further noted; "I have taken note of your concerns and issues regarding pending mineral licenses applications. In order to improve the process, it has been resolved that the Mineral Prospecting and Mining Rights Advisory Committee (MPMRAC) is now meeting twice a month instead of once a month to speed up the process. We have also resolved to expedite the review of the Minerals and Diamond Acts, focusing on identified critical and strategic issues. To that end, last week we held a consultation workshop with selected institutions and stakeholders, with a view to consult widely early next year and to finalise the review during the first quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year."
Commenting at the briefing on behalf of the mining industry, President of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, Zebra Kasete, who is also the managing director of Dundee Precious Metals, noted that commodity markets continued to be volatile, with uranium still being very depressed. This, said Kasete, was a situation that has forced Langer Heinrich uranium mine to go into care and maintenance and unfortunately resulted in a loss of about 600 jobs.
"We are however, consoled by the robust fundamentals of the uranium markets in the medium to long-term. Indications are that the markets may recover by 2022, at which point the two mines on care and maintenance will come back into production and at least five uranium projects will advance to mine development. We have equally seen new operations in graphite, and lithium open mines and quickly closes down due to market volatility and other operating overheads which rendered these operations unprofitable. The challenges are being addressed and the mines may come back into operations again once market conditions improve," said Kasete.