Mines and Energy deputy minister Kornelia Shilunga has applauded Namibian small scale miners for their hard work and encouraged the youth to seize on the opportunities available in the small scale mining industry.
Shilunga said this at the Namibian Coloured Gemstones showcase which took place yesterday organised by the Jewelers Association of Namibia, GIZ, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“This event and such future events will demystify and open up the Gemstone Industry thus creating opportunities for Namibians especially those at the Grassroots. It is important that industry players devise ways in which to harness and utilise these opportunities in a responsible and sustainable manner,” she said.
She said the quality, diversity, and uniqueness of Namibian coloured gemstones have made Namibia an acclaimed supplier of Tourmaline, Beryls and Garnets, and many others, in the African continent.
“No wonder the International Gemmology Society (IGS) has chosen Namibia as its destination for its 35th International Gemmology Conference. The IGC will gather international gemmologists in Namibia today and tomorrow to discuss gemmological sciences in all its facets,” she said.
Overall trade and retail flowing from the coloured gemstone value chain has multiplied and many buyers from abroad and from South Africa are trading in Namibia, the minister said.
“Today however, the coloured gemstone sector is more fragmented than it was in 1990.Although more raw stones are being traded, the actual value added to the total value chain has dropped over the years,” said Shilunga.
She lamented that there are fewer Namibians creating jewelry with Namibian-mined coloured gemstones than fifteen years ago and that the value chain is suffering from a shortage of supply of raw gemstones.
“Despite the valuable contribution of the small-scale miners, there are not enough good quality stones being fed into the processing and manufacturing stages of the value chain. How can more gems be made available locally for value addition?” she said.
She added, “As one of five intervention areas of the sector growth strategy (developed in 2015/16), the stakeholders have organised themselves to create awareness of their industry during these two days.”
This project will study the development needs of small scale miners, concentrating on one pilot region and Identify skills development as well as technology improvement needs.
“I would like to encourage companies in the gemstone industry to remain good corporate citizens and commit themselves to genuine empowerment of the local population by being vigilant about the needs of the area in which they operate and beyond and also to be responsive to the socio-economic development of our country,” she concluded.