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Seibeb Calls On Lithium Factory To Be Established In Uis …says Namibia should impose moratorium

By: Justicia Shipena
Landless People’s Movement (LPM) member of parliament Henny Seibeb has called for a community owned lithium factory to be established in Uis, with 60% shares.
Seibeb also proposed the imposition of an embargo on the lithium industry.
Located in the Erongo region and housing a population of roughly 3,600 people, Uis has been recently rocked with claims of illegal lithium mining.
His calls followed a Simonis Storm report on lithium in Namibia which stated that Namibia could pocket N$4.6 billion in taxes, adding that the lithium industry could surpass diamonds as Namibia’s most lucrative mining natural resource.
The report also stated that there has been no production or export data on lithium since independence.
“We must therefore impose a moratorium in the lithium industry and do what is correct; determine the value of our lithium and undertake practical steps towards value-addition by establishing a community owned lithium factory in Uis, with 60% shares,”Seibeb suggested.
According to him, there is an urgent need to create jobs, which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that the Namibian economy is not growing fast enough to provide jobs for the unemployed and to reduce poverty and inequality.
Hence Seibeb said Namibia should investigate proposals for value-addition in rural Namibia and determine their economic viability for implementation.
“To add value, Namibia needs to take advantage of the current high mineral prices, which are likely to continue for the next few decades, as long as China and India continue to experience robust growth,” he said.
The LPM lawmaker further argued that this is an opportunity for Namibia to use its finite mineral resources to catalyse economic growth and development at the national level, by maximising the economic linkages.
Seibeb said the imposition of the free-mining system serves to limit the authority and discretionary powers of governments.
“This undermines the sovereignty of nations and reinforces the dominance of powerful mining interests, perpetuating a system that fails to prioritise the needs and interests of local communities,” he said.
The demand for lithium has experienced a surge between 2019 to 2022.
This increased demand has prompted experts to anticipate a further rise to more than one million metric tons by 2025.
Namibia is one of the top five lithium-rich countries in Africa, alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Ghana and Zimbabwe, with Namibia ranking fifth in the list.
Meanwhile, the global lithium market size is estimated to reach USD 15.45 billion (N$230.1 billion) by 2028.
Seibeb further said the poor and marginalised communities in Namibia’s Uis and Omatjete areas are voicing serious concerns about illegal lithium mining.
The communities are alleging that corrupt government officials and traditional authorities have given their blessing to the mining operations in exchange for bribes.
These concerns were raised by concerned groups in the Uis community during a meeting on March 13, 2023.
“Lithium mining industry is today, in Namibia, characterised by corruption and predator politics, which may lead to rivalry summary executions, if we are not careful,” he lamented.
He stated that the local communities of Uis and Omatjete have developed trust-issues with both the Mining Commissioner and Environmental Commissioner.
“There is trust deficit because these two top powerful government officials provide asymmetrical information to the communities and are seen as working hand in glove with the illegal lithium mining operators and Traditional Authority leaders to undermine the efforts of the poor, weak, and vulnerable communities.”
He urged the National Assembly members not to allow anarchy to persist in the lithium mining industry.
He said they should not preside over a State infiltrated by quasi-politicians and rent-seekers, who, according to him, subvert laws, regulations and policies.
Furthermore, he said there have been no baseline studies done by government to determine the worth of lithium.
To this, Seibeb said, there is a crisis of accumulation, governance and State collapse in the lithium sector.
“As there is simply no State oversight, much less continued absence and silence from President Dr. Hage G. Geingob,” Seibeb pointed out.
He noted that if Namibia calculates the value of its lithium ore and add value to it in Uis, it could provide jobs for all the capable people in Uis, Omatjete, Okombahe, /Uikrens, Tubusis and nearby small settlements in Erongo and Kunene regions.

Justicia Shipena

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