Namibia mining sector recovering

By Timo Shihepo

WINDHOEK – NAMIBIA’S mining sector is finally showing signs of recovery after months of enduring difficulties, says the Chamber of Mines president Kombadayedu Kapwanga.

Earlier this year, the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa (MIASA) announced that the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region had lost 490 000 jobs in the mining industry due to depressed commodity prices on international markets.

Namibia has since 2014 shed over 1 500 jobs in the diamond beneficiation sector alone, with only some 600 to 700 people still employed in that sector, according to information obtained from the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Kapwanga told The Southern Times that demand for gold, diamonds and metal has been increasing globally, uplifting the local mining sector.

“The sector is not really in deep trouble anymore; it’s becoming stable now as currently commodity prices went down and people are now buying luxury goods made from our mining products. Although gold and diamond prices are stable, the uranium sector is still feeling the global pinch. Unfortunately, at difficult times like these, most of the times our hands are tied and we can’t do much because the factors pertaining to our mining industries are determined by the global factors. The fact that China isn’t buying our products so well at the moment is not helping either,” he said.

Werner Duvenhage, the managing director of Rössing Uranium Limited – which runs Namibia’s Rössing Uranium Mine – says: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This certainly applies to this difficult period and I believe it applies to Rössing Uranium as a business.”

He says in their 39-year history, there have been times when they have experienced similarly challenging periods, but they survived these too and went on to prosper when market conditions improved.

“Rössing Uranium is looking beyond the current difficult times and remains positive about the future of our business. As could be expected, since 2015 these months can be described as a tough year for Rössing Uranium, but we’re positive that we will survive, and even prosper, in the years to come,” he says.

Duvenhage admits the next few years would remain challenging, but says the mine looks beyond the immediate challenges. To find and maximise Rössing’s opportunities in the future, he says the mine will closely look at how efficiently it works, with the aim to keep the business profitable.

Meanwhile, Kapwanga said they have been in touch with SADC governments asking them to create a conducive environment and conditions in which the region can attract private investors who in turn will invest their money and energy to explore more what the region can offer.

“We want to see more exploration in the region because it’s through exploration that we tend to discover new mines which will in turn bring about results such as profits and jobs. We engaged the ministers responsible for energy in the region and we’ll see where this will lead us,” he said.

August 2016
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