NAMIBIA’S TOURISM, MINES MINISTRIES DISCUSS AMENDING DIAMOND ACT

LUDERITZ, NAMIBIA-- Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Ministry of Mines are in negotiation to amend the country's Diamond Act to enable tourists to visit the Tsau //Khaeb National Park (Sperrgebiet) near Luderitz in southern Kharas Region (Province).

The Act, amended in 1999, gives mining firm Namdeb Holdings full rights to control the park area of about 22,000 square kilometres, bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Orange River to the south and the resort town of Ai-Ais to the East.

Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony for new park infrastructure here last Friday, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said the park had been closed to the public for more than 100 years, since the discovery of diamonds there in 1908.

"The negotiations aim to reduce the boundaries of the diamond area by de-gazetting 70 per cent of the park that falls outside the Namdeb mining licence from the diamond area status," said Shifeta.

He noted that further negotiations were needed in order to amend the Act to allow for controlled tourism and restricted crossing rights for tourism businesses.

Shifeta added that the amended Act should also give nature conservation officers the power to go into mining areas for inspections as environmental officers. Both processes -- on visits by tourists and inspection s by environmental officers -- are expected to be completed by March 2019.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK