Erongo, Kunene Demand Benefits From EPLs

COMMUNITIES in the resource-rich Erongo and Kunene regions are demanding involvement and consultations regarding the extraction of minerals in their areas.

According to a parliamentary report compiled by the standing committee on legal affairs, the people in the two regions are not happy that lucrative exploration licences are issued to companies which do not make any meaningful contribution to community development.

The report was premised on decentralisation of government services.

“Regional councils, local authorities and taxation authorities as well as communities of the Erongo and Kunene regions are not satisfied with the way exclusive prospecting licences are issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy,” the report tabled in parliament last week said.

Erongo Region is home to the Navachab gold mine near Karibib, and uranium mines in the Namib desert near Arandis.

“In the interest of wealth distribution, the communities need some kind of involvement and consultation, as these mineral resources are exploited and mined in their areas. They do not receive any royalties from the mining companies, nor do the mining companies make any meaningful social contribution to local authorities and communities,” the report said.

Proposals were made for the decentralisation of the mines and energy ministry and for a review of the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act and Minerals Development Act. This report is not the first to highlight the lack of community-based benefits. A report tabled by a parliamentary standing committee on economics, natural resources and public administration last year raised the issue of lack of consultation by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in awarding prospecting licences.

Councillors said the lack of consultation causes problems at the local level, recommending that regional councils be given power to influence the awarding of mining licenses.

“In Kunene, rare earth minerals are being mined in Khorixas, but residents do not benefit,” the report said.

The report about the exploration of minerals comes three weeks after Swapo member of parliament Kazenambo Kazenambo confessed that he owned a lucrative exploration license for status and also accused multinationals of forcing indigenous Namibians to sell their prized assets by “by hook or by crook”.

Mines and energy minister Isak Katali admitted in 2011 that Namibia has become an “Eldorado of speculators and other quick-fix, would-be mineral explorers and mining developers”.

The Namibian has published names of several people who have either gone into partnership with foreign companies to work on EPLs or sold off them for millions.

A report released by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) last year confirmed claims of underhand deals in the exploration sector.

“Namibia lacks clear policies and laws in certain areas. The absence of a Black Economic Empowerment policy or framework (and law) means that the ‘positive discrimination’ associated with BEE can be applied in an ad hoc and arbitrary manner,” the report said.

Source : The Namibian