The mines and energy ministry has called on small-scale miners to form legal groups/bodies such as associations or co-operatives, which will act as legal entities so that any form of support from the government, non-governmental organisations, and development partners can be channelled through them.
The miners are also encouraged to participate in international trade fairs to market their products.
These sentiments were shared by the ministry’s spokesperson Andreas Simon while responding to queries on the mining situation in the Kunene region, specifically for the 255 Active miners.
There are 876 small-scale miners pending applications at the ministry currently.
Simon told this publication that small-scale miners stand a better chance at running competitive and sustainable business operations as they can better afford services such as professional services to conduct Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) to be legally compliant if they are organised.
”They can afford equipment for better productivity, they can afford to market their products at international fairs to secure markets and in this way, they can stay competitive,” noted Simon.
Recently, small miners have aired their grievances against established miners, who according to them, are taking them out of business, thus forcefully taking over their mining areas under the pretext of shared income. Simon said if SSMs are operating under valid mining claims, then nobody has the right to take over their areas.
”The cases referred to could possibly be joint ventures gone wrong. The Ministry is not normally involved but always encourages small-scale miners (if they don’t have the capacity) to seek the help of the Ministry if they are entering into joint ventures with potential investors to ensure that they are not taken advantage of,” he said.
Additionally, Simon reiterated that the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act 33 of 1992 has provisions that are specifically meant for the protection of small-scale miners.
”Mining Claims (MC) are reserved for Namibians only or 100 percent Namibian-owned companies.
The cost of the MC is set low at N$250.00 to be affordable and to encourage small-scale miners to legalise their operations. The Mining Claim is valid for three years and can be renewed every 2 years indefinitely,” he added.
In addition, the mines and energy ministry has established the Small Scale Mining Division (SSMD) which is responsible for promoting and formalising the small-scale mining sector in Namibia. The division has been conducting awareness to empower SSM in different parts of the country concerning mineral rights application, environmental governance compliance, and maintaining health and safety in their operations.
”We assist with geochemical sample analysis for SSM with valid mineral rights. To give an example of some of the services offered, In June 2022, MME officials from the SSMD division visited 9 small-scale mining sites in the Kunene region, handed out Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to 93 small-scale miners, and shared valuable information for the success of their businesses,” he said.
Furthermore, the ministry has seconded a staff member to Opuwo Regional Council to assist small-scale miners and the public in the Kunene region with mining-related queries and applications.