By:Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus and Fransina Nghidengwa
The country’s miners’ representative has indicated the Cabinet’s decision to ban the export of critical minerals are not impactful to their operation but they will engage on the discretionary power given to the Minister of Mines and Energy.
The Chamber of Mines in a statement released this week in response to the Cabinet’s decision on the ban, indicated that the measures taken by the Namibian government do not inhibit work being done by the mineral companies in Namibia.
The Chamber critiqued the decision by the country’s highest decision body to give the Minister of Mines and Energy the discretionary power to decide on whether to approve smaller quantity export for testing or not.
They said that such a requirement to those who want to go do testing outside the country could delay the testing that needs to be to provide a commercial picture of the reserve or the concentrate level.
“The Chamber is concerned that the requirement for an endorsement by Cabinet on exports of ore in small quantities may unintentionally delay genuine test work being carried out by Chamber members,”said Veston Malango, the Chamber Executive Officer.
Malango explained that the testing is for purposes of critical metallurgical test work required in the design of the much-needed processing plants in Namibia.
As a result of this decision, he said, they will engage the Minister responsible for mineral matters on the Cabinet decision.
“The Chamber intends to proactively engage the Minister of Mines and Energy so that exports of minerals for such purposes should not be unreasonably delayed.”
Cabinet did not only ban the export of raw critical minerals such as unprocessed crushed lithium ore, cobalt manganeseoxides, graphite and rare earth elements but also gave the mining ministry discretionary power.
This discretionary power is to give permission to miners who want to export smaller quantities of critical mineral ores for testing outside the country.
“Cabinet approved that smaller quantities of the above-mentioned minerals may be allowed for export at the discretion of the Minister of Mines and Energy subject to Cabinet endorsement,” the document read.
The mining companies’ representative recognised that it is necessary for government to control and regulate the export of unprocessed critical minerals to support job creation and grow the economy in line with the ‘African Mining Vision’.
Malango explained that processing and value addition to all minerals, inclusive of critical minerals, is indeed a widely-held narrative in Namibia.
Thus, the Chamber of Mines “recognises that the intention of this directive is to ensure that Namibia does not lose out on any potential local value addition.”
The ChamberPresident Zebra Kasete saidthe Cabinet directive will not have any immediate repercussions on the future plans of Chamber members.
He explained that the miners have plans to add value locally to the critical minerals at least to the concentrate level and retain jobs in Namibia.
Kasete said they will approach the policymakers on how they can work together and enable investment.
“The Chamber will proactively engage government to collectively identify processing and value addition opportunities for Namibia’s critical minerals, and what enablers are necessary to make Namibia an attractive destination for investment into value addition opportunities,” he stated.
Tomas Aipanda, a mining engineer, said the banning will benefit the Namibian government because throughout the years Namibia is trying to localise development and one of the ways it can be done is through local beneficiation.
“As most people would know most of the minerals are exported in raw form and we lose out on the value of minerals and I think it is the right move from the ministry,” he said.
Aipanda further encouraged all the miners in the country to try to beneficiate all the raw products so that they create more jobs and invest more by settimg up processing plans in order to employ more local Namibians.
He said that it is a good move that can benefit the government in the long run, regardless of the mixed emotions.
According to Aipanda, the drive towards rare mineral resources means that there will be a very high demand for lithium and it only makes sense that they beneficiate lithium as much as possible locally.
He added that the beneficiation should be encouraged to the extent that the country will be in a position where they can add as much value to the lithium ore.
“All in all, I think the opportunities and the potential for us to gain from our resources are extremely high and it is a good move from the government that we can at least get to a point where we can get more investments into our economy and more people employed through all this beneficial plan,”Aipanda said. Email: email@example.com