The mining industry remains the undisputed driver of Namibia’s economic growth, a significant contributor to the country’s GDP, as well as a key employer and skills developer.
Since Namibia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, it fares well as a world-class producer of rough diamonds, uranium oxide, high-grade zinc and acid-grade fluorspar; as well as, as a producer of gold bullion, blister copper, lead concentrate, salt and dimension stone.
To this end, a high number of international mining companies with state-of-the-art mining and processing technologies are at work in the country including Rio Tinto Plc and Vedanta Plc, to produce uranium oxide at Rössing Mine and special high-grade zinc at the Skorpion Mine and Refinery.
Paladin Energy’s Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine is in full production and the expansion of Phase III continues while construction of AREVA’s Trekoppje Mine and other upcoming uranium development projects, such as Extract’s Husab project, will turn Namibia into a major world producer of uranium oxide.
AngloGold Ashanti produces gold bullion at Navachab Mine near Karibib. Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation, with Exxaro Base Metals Namibia and Namibian investors as major shareholders own the Rosh Pinah Mine to produce zinc and lead concentrates. Weatherly Mining Namibia is reviving the Otjihase and Matchless copper mines while Namibia Custom Smelters, which is wholly owned by Dundee Precious Metals, produces blister copper at the Tsumeb smelter, from imported copper concentrates.
Okorusu Fluorspar, owned by European chemicals, pharmaceuticals and plastics giant, Solvay, is one of the world’s largest producers of acid-grade fluorspar.
In 2009 alone, export earnings from the local mining sector reached N$10.9b (US$1.3b) while mineral-related exports accounted for 44% of Namibia’s total merchandise exports.
The change of ownership of the Otjikoto gold deposit to Auryx Gold Corporation emboldened the prospects and fortunes by dual listing on the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) in February 2011. The Otjikoto Mine has the potential to be an open pit gold mine capable of annually producing approximately 100 000 ounces of gold and boasts a ten-year potential mine life. Currently, work is in progress to exploit the world’s most priced commodity.
The construction of Africa’s most sophisticated cement plant by Schwenk-owned Ohorongo Cement was successfully completed at a cost of N$2.5b. The plant produces 700 000 tonnes of high quality cement for domestic consumption and exports them to neighbouring countries including [southern] Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Botswana.
Namibia’s uranium industry is also making a significant progress after a weakness in the global outlook. According to the Bank of Namibia (BoN)’s quarterly bulletin, uranium export earnings increased by 13.1% to N$1.3b, quarter-on-quarter during the second quarter of the year. While this news could bring relief, the fact is, demand for uranium is low, causing a decline in the overall price by 5.1%, quarter-on-quarter to US$40.7 a pound.
Nonetheless, Husab is likely to be the world’s third largest uranium mine when it commences production in 2014. Its projected investment is currently estimated at US$1.67b (N$12b). PF