Industry

Alweendo reacts to lithium issue

Summary

Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo says Chinese Mining Company Xinfeng Investments was issued with export permits totalling 135 000 tonnes of crushed ore “for testing purposes.” There has been widespread public concern at the rate at which Xinfeng […]

Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo says Chinese Mining Company Xinfeng Investments was issued with export permits totalling 135 000 tonnes of crushed ore “for testing purposes.”

There has been widespread public concern at the rate at which Xinfeng has been transporting lithium ore to Walvis Bay for export purposes, leading to the minister having to intervene.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Alweendo said the company was awarded an Exclusive Prospecting License, EPL7228, in October 2021.

“In August 2022 the company applied and was awarded a mining licence, ML243, over part of the area covered by EPL7228. In their application for a mining licence, they indicated that they have a resource estimation of eight million tonnes of ore, with an estimated lithium content of about one per cent,” he said.

He added that Xinfeng indicated that they will start with mining operations in 2024 after they have built a processing plant, but started the mining operations soon after they received their mining licence.

Alweendo further explained that the company had indicated that they needed to test the lithium ore in China before deciding on what type of processing plant should be built in Namibia.

He laid the blame on the ministry officials responsible for the administration of export permits, saying they neglected to agree with the company on the total quantity of ore that could be exported for testing purposes.

“To date, the company has been issued with export permits totalling 135 000 tonnes of crushed ore. Of the total tonnes, 75 000 tonnes have already been exported and the remainder is still to be exported. Royalty fees worth N.dollars 2 million have been paid for the 75 000 tonnes so far exported,” the minister said.

The ministry has agreed with the company that what still needs to be exported based on the issued permits, must be exported by 29 November 2022.

Alweendo told Parliament that he visited the company’s mining operations in Omaruru and the storage facility at the port of Walvis Bay to gather information.

The minister admitted that 135 000 tonnes is an unreasonably high quantity for testing purposes.

“The only fair conclusion one can make is that the company decided to export crushed ore, not only for testing purposes, but also to make an income for its operations,” he said.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency