May 6, 2011

Plans for bigger state role in mining announced

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Isak Katali, has announced that Epangelo, a state-owned mining company, would hold exclusive exploration and mining rights on uranium, copper, gold, zinc, and coal. Accordingly, the Cabinet has endorsed plans to issue all mining and mineral exploration permits to Epangelo. In a statement, the Cabinet said it had supported a proposal that uranium, gold, copper, coal, diamonds and rare earth metals were declared “strategic minerals” and that the right to own licenses for strategic minerals will only be issued to Epangelo. It was added that the decision was taken in the interest of Namibia’s mineral resources and national development towards achieving Vision 2030. “Given the country’s mineral rights are vested in the government, investors were uncertain that the declaration had real impact. That was until the government said the move was “so that the Namibian citizen can fully reap the benefits arising from the rich endowment of our mineral resources,” the statement from cabinet said. Furthermore, the Cabinet also let know that it was unhappy with some current coal license holders that had exploration rights for a very long time and little progress had been achieved over the years.

In response to the government’s proposed new minerals policy, the mining company Weatherly International said in a statement, that the minister has advised the Chamber of Mines of Namibia late last month that any new policy will not apply to current licenses and will therefore not affect existing exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs), mining licences and mineral deposit retention licences. The parent company of Weatherly Mining Namibia, said that its current operations and existing licenses will therefore remain unaffected by any new policy. Meanwhile, the the general manager of the Chamber of Mines, Veston Malango, also confirmed that the new policy would not affect mining licenses already issued. (The Namibian)


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