Diamonds drive economy

Windhoek – Diamond mining has surpassed non-diamond mining as the larger contributor to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product and foreign exchange earnings with a total revenue of N$21.6 billion in 2014, according to the President of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, Werner Duvenhage.

Duvenhage was speaking at the launch of the Mining Expo at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek last week where he presented a review of the mining industry in Namibia and highlighted some of the achievements and setbacks in the sector.

He said that the diamond market in Namibia remained favourable and the country’s diamond output continued to rise.

“Namdeb Holdings produced a total of 1.8 million carats of diamonds, of which 1.273 million were produced by Debmarine Namibia. This is the largest annual production recorded to date by Debmarine Namibia, breaking the production record for the third year in a row,” he beamed.

He also expressed satisfaction with the improved production at Namdeb, alluding to the fact that the giant diamond company increased production in 2014 to a total of 612,265 carats against a budget of 570,427 carats.

Duvenhage said that the performance was attributed to favourable exchange rates and diamond prices in 2014 and continuous investment made by the company.

Other mining companies that also had positive outcomes for 2014, were Rosh Pinah Zinc Mine which increased loads from 20,551 tonnes in 2013 to 22,317 tonnes last year as a result of better recovery rates, according to the Chamber of Mines of Namibia.

Likewise, Navachab Gold Mine increased its production from 1,795 kg in 2013 to 1,838 kg in 2014 because of higher grade ore.

Furthermore, Ohorongo Cement recorded a successful year, producing 730,632 tonnes of cemente – a 10 percent increase from production recorded in 2013.

However, there were some challenges experienced with some mining firms that recorded a reduction in production, such as zinc mining, where at Skorpion Zinc production fell from 124,924 tonnes in 2013 to 102,188 tonnes last year.

Rossing Uranium also recorded a reduction in production, producing 1,543 tonnes of uranium oxide in 2014, compared to 2,409 tonnes in 2013, while Langerheinrich Mine also experienced a drop from 2,469 tonnes in 2013 to 2,296 tonnes last year.

Copper production at Weatherly Mining Namibia through its Otjihase and Matchless mines also dropped to 20,994 tonnes of copper concentrates containing 5,086 tonnes of copper metal in 2014, compared to 20,477 tonnes of copper concentrated produced contained 5,182 tonnes of copper metal the previous year.

According to statistics provided by the National Statistics Agency (NSA), in 2014 the mining sector made direct contribution of 13 percent to Namibia’s GDP, but contracted 4.6 percent in real terms.

“I am pleased to note that with the growth of the mining industry, opportunities have been created in upstream economic activities. As alluded to in my highlights, the Chamber is proud that Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb is constructing a N$2.9 billion sulphuric acid plant at the Tsumeb smelter,” said Duvenhage.

Some of the positive developments in the mining sector include Swakop mining, which is putting up the second largest uranium mine – Husab mine, which is expected to produce approximately 6,800 tonnes of uranium oxide per year.

Weatherly mine is also in the process of developing the Tschudi copper mine to produce approximately 17,000 tonnes of copper cathode per annum.

May 2015
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