By Paheja Siririka
The Chamber of Mines in Namibia this week lauded the local mining sector as the best performing economic sector in 2018. This top performance was confirmed by the Preliminary National Accounts as released by the Namibia Statistics Agency, which indicated that the sector recorded a strong growth rate of 22 percent compared to 13.3 percent in 2017, which is more than any other economic sector.
“According to these statistics, the positive industry growth was driven by production increases of particulary uranium and diamonds, in comparison with 2017,” emphasised the chamber’s Chief Executive Officer Veston Malango.
The statistics show that the Husab Uranium mine produced 4 981 tonnes of Uranium in 2017 and 6 514 tonnes of Uranium in 2018, representing a 31 percent increase.
“Similarly, with diamonds in 2017, Namdeb Holdings recorded 1.8 million carats, in 2018 it just recorded over 2 million carats which is a production increase of 11 percent,” said Malango this week at the launch of the 2019 Mining Expo.
Malango added that the mining industry faced a lot of challenges last year due to commodity markets. He noted that overall commodity prices have recovered during the last two years, with the exception of uranium. “There are slight improvements but we are still struggling,” he said.
“We witnessed a number of mines going under care and maintenance due to challenges of markets of some minerals and this led to 822 job loses which is regrettable but that is the nature of mining,” said Malango.
However, he continued that with new interventions, jobs are slowly being reclaimed. “Three old mines will be brought back into operation which is symbolic of where the industry has come from and where we are moving to,” said Malango.
He pointed out that those reopening are AfriTin’s Uis Tin mine and North River Resources’ Namib Lead and Zinc mines, which are both scheduled to enter production during the course of this year.
“In addition, Desert Lion Energy is also in the process of redeveloping the Helikon and Rubicon lithium mines just outside Karibib,” said Malango.
The chamber CEO reiterated the importance of capital investments and said it is imperative that Namibia attracts investment into exploration as this will increase the likelihood of new discoveries and the development of new mines.
Touching on the upcoming 8th Mining Expo, slated for May 08 and 09, 2019, Malango said; “This will not be an investor conference but a mining expo.”
He emphasised that the mining sector aims to engage with the suppliers of goods and services, noting that the local mining sector has spent over 40 percent of its revenue on supplies. “That’s N$11.77 billion, quite a big chunk of what we make stays in the county,” said Malango.
“We also want to engage with you for them to explore mining opportunities and how to advance job prospects,” emphasised Malango. The theme for this year’s mining expo is ‘Celebrating 50 years of excellence and dedicated service to Namibia’s mining industry’.
The mining expo has been growing steadily during the last few years. In 2017, the expo hosted 73 exhibitors with 103 booths which attracted more than 730 visitors.
According to Malanga, figures in 2018 were satisfying and it was the best year, with 94 exhibitors, 144 booths (including complementary booths) and attracted a whopping 2 748 visitors.
“The expo was started off at Safari Hotel but the venue became too small, and we changed to the Windhoek Showgrounds and currently for this coming expo, we have 67 exhibitors that have booked 120 booths so far,” said Malango.
This year is marking 50 years of service to the industry. Malango said from its modest beginnings in May 1969, the Chamber has endeavoured to serve the mining industry with excellence.
“Success of the Namibian mining industry would not have been possible without close cooperation and support from government,” said Malango, noting that it is the Chamber’s ability to act as an honest broker that is key to its success.