News – National | 2023-02-21 Page no: 5
by Andreas Thomas
NATIONAL Assembly lawmaker Josef Kauandenge has accused the government, through the Ministry of Mines and Energy, of giving away the country’s natural resources to foreign investors.
Kauandenge said in parliament last week that it is disheartening that the government has surrendered the country’s mineral resources to foreign investors who provide capital for exploration.
He cited the uranium mining sector in which mines are owned by foreigners, including the Langer Heinrich Mine.
Kauandenge also cited the Trekkopje Mine, Etango Uranium Mine, Norasa Uranium, and the Rosh Pinah Skorpion Zinc Mine as some of the mines wholly owned by foreign companies.
The government owns minimal shares in major mines like Trekkopje, Husab Uranium, Navachab and Oshikoto.
The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) parliamentarian said the situation pointed to a depressing picture that “must not be allowed to continue”.
In a notice of questions to mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo, Kauandenge questioned the status quo.
“How can a country so rich in minerals allow itself to be exploited by foreigners, while receiving peanuts for our minerals?”
He called on Alweendo to explain “what is happening to our minerals and why the government allows potential investors in our mining without demanding an adequate percentage for our raw minerals?”.
“Why then does the country not benefit from its uranium and if these facts are correct, why does Langer Heinrich own 100% of our uranium, while uranium is one of the five mineral resources that were declared strategic by the Namibian government in 2011?
“Is this hypocrisy on the side of the Namibian government, or simply negligence? This mine was under care and maintenance and it is about to resume operations in 2024. My question is will it still continue under the same percentage allocation or not?”
Meanwhile, the status quo may continue following a directive by the ministry of mines for Namibians who wish to venture into mining to prove their financial muscle by submitting proof of their financial resources.
The ministry, in a notice to applicants, has given locals who applied for exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs) until Thursday to do so.
The directive applies to all EPL applicants of 2022 whose licences need to be granted in 2023.
Alweendo initiated the move to embrace foreign investment in 2018.
At the time, he said the move was meant to attract more investors and to grow the mining sector.