24 April 2019

Namibian Uranium Sector to Lead 2019 Growth - Fitch

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Fitch Macro Research mining team has said it is only local uranium mining that is expected to push the economy out of the negatives, leading to economic growth in 2019.

The team of researchers at Fitch Solutions Macro Research said this earlier this month.

"We expect increasing uranium output to underpin robust growth in Namibia's mining sector over the coming quarters, providing tailwinds to the broader economy, and returning real GDP growth to positive territory over 2019", they added.

The economic outlook report released by the Bank of Namibia last week indicated that 8,2% growth is expected for uranium mining, and would be the lead growth stimulator of the whole primary and secondary sectors, followed by grain mill production and rubber and plastic production at 5,2% and 5%, respectively.

The central bank has projected a 0,3% growth in economic activity for 2019, led by the secondary sector at a projected 1,4%, followed by the tertiary sector at 0,8%, and the primary sector, whose average growth is in the negatives at -2,8%.

Fitch had projected uranium output growth of 20% in 2018, and now forecasts production to increase by 40% over 2019, and 10% over 2020, leading Namibia in becoming the third-largest uranium producer globally.

"We believe increased mining sector activity and exports of uranium to countries such as China, where demand for nuclear power is strong, will see the mining sector continue to outperform the rest of the economy," the research agency stated. Key nations hungry for Namibian uranium over the years include Australia, China, Canada, France and the United States of America.

While other nations' demand has been decreasing over the years, exports to China reached N$5,5 billion in 2018, making it the highest export of uranium ever in the history of Namibia.

In 2018, Namibia had only two fully operational uranium mines, including the Husab mine, 90% owned by China's public enterprise, China General Nuclear Power Holding Company and the China-Africa Development Fund. The remaining 10% is owned by Epangelo Mining, Namibia's loss-making state-owned company.

- lazarus@namibian.com.na; Twitter: @Lasarus_A

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