COVID-19: Mining contribution to GPD contracted by 12 per cent

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Due to the pandemic and resulting restrictions, mining’s contribution to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product contracted by about 12 per cent, Rand Merchant Bank’s sector lead for mining and natural resources Fabian Shaanika has said.

Shaanika in a media statement on Friday said although mining was classified as a critical activity and some operations were allowed to continue at minimal level, other operations went into care and maintenance.

He however said because Namibia generally has a diverse mix of mining operations, including base metals, precious metals and uranium, overall the impact of COVID-19 was well-buffered by the mere nature of the diversified mining portfolio of the country.

“At the same time, there are ongoing efforts to develop local beneficiation. For example in the diamond industry, there has been an enormous drive to promote the local cutting and polishing industry. Today, 15 per cent of the diamond production in Namibia is handled by a local company. Although still at the feasibility stage, there are plans to increase the quantity of locally refined zinc with the possible conversion of a zinc refinery plant in Namibia,” he added.

Shaanika further said there are currently several projects in various stages to supply the increasing demand for minerals feeding into the battery and electrification sector.

With regards to energy, Namibia remains a net importer of power but there are many renewable energy projects, either in construction or in the feasibility phase, presently working on ensuring long-term access to power for ongoing mining operations.

“Namibia’s geographical location makes it the perfect candidate for both solar and wind opportunities, which continue to be considered. Despite the potential the sector holds, there remains room for improvement in how exploration licences are allocated. Currently, there is a complete moratorium on issuing new licences within Namibia, which will only be removed in August this year. We trust that by the end of 2021, we will have a positive policy outcome and thus a more conducive and enhanced environment for the continued growth of the sector,” Shaanika stated.

Source: Namibia Press Agency