Namibia has effectively adopted a mining act which makes it mandatory for any future investments in the lucrative extractive sector to reserve a minimum of 15 percent ownership for locals.
The legislation which came into effect from April 1 is drafted to improve participation of the local folk primarily the previously disadvantaged population in the mining sector. It also effectively prohibits Namibians from selling off 100 percent of their mining licenses to foreigners.
Namibia is the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium, third largest producer of diamonds and the Southern African country also boasts of a variety of other minerals including gold, copper and zinc among many.
In an interview with the Ministry of Mines and Energy Public Relations Officer Andreas Simon whose ministry spearheaded the process of instituting the empowerment law said it is imperative to create leeway for Namibians to play a significant part in the exploitation of their resources for the betterment of their lives.
“Applications by Namibian nationals for the transfer, cessation and assignment of mineral licenses to foreign companies or persons may be granted provided 15 percent interest in the company is retained to a local shareholder. The Transfer, cessation, assignment of mineral licenses by Namibians will stop effective April 1” he said.
He said the legislation is also meant to curb an ongoing challenge where Namibians apply for mining rights and cede them to foreign nationals for a quick buck. The Ministry of Mines said they were keen to close all loopholes that in the past has resulted in major Exploration Prospecting Licenses being sold to foreign conglomerates with the financial muscle to run the industry while locals are kept out.
Simon added that, “The mines and energy ministry and the general public have been advocating local ownership and participation in the mining sector – by granting exclusive prospecting licenses to indigenous people, in the hope of curing the absence of local ownership.”