How significant is the mining industry to the Namibian economy?
Namibia is a renowned mining jurisdiction, home to some of the world’s largest uranium deposits, and is the world’s largest producer of marine diamonds. It relies on the industry for economic growth as it contributes approximately 10% to the country’s GDP. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and resulting restrictions, mining’s contribution to Namibia’s GDP contracted by about 12% over the past year.
There are ongoing efforts to develop local beneficiation. For example, in the diamond industry there has been an enormous drive to promote the local cutting and polishing industry. Today, 15% of the diamond production in Namibia is handled by a local Namibian company. Although still at feasibility stage, there are plans to increase the amount of locally refined zinc with the possible conversion of a zinc refinery plant in Namibia.
What is hindering the Namibian mining industry’s growth?
There is room for improvement in how exploration licenses are allocated. Currently, there is a complete moratorium on issuing new licenses within Namibia, which will only be removed in August this year. It was put in place because the Ministry saw a need for improvement in the licensing process and established a new policy and regulatory frameworks. By the end of 2021, we will have a positive policy outcome and (hopefully) a more conducive environment. The availability and quality of geological and geophysical data could also improve. Currently, the Geological Survey of Namibia hosts and owns the geological data sets. This information should be easily accessible to the scientific and mining fraternity and should be free (or subsidised) to encourage exploration investment.