Mining faces Covid crunch

According to the NSA’s stats, mining and quarrying last year pumped nearly N$16.6 billion into the economy at current prices.

30 March 2020 | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Mining and quarrying last year grew by -11.1% and hopes that it would be one of the main drivers of economy recovery in Namibia this year, have been shattered by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Data released by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) on Thursday show diamond mining in 2019 grew by -17.7%, while uranium registered a figure of -4.4% and metal ores recorded -0.1%.

Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo on Friday issued a statement saying during the partial lockdown in Namibia, “normal mining operation must be discontinued”.

“Minimal mining operation and critical maintenance work will be allowed to continue,” Alweendo said, adding that preventative measures like social distancing must be observed at all times.

All mining and exploration companies are furthermore required to inform the ministry in writing about the measures they have taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, he said. These reports must reach the mining commissioner “before close of business on 2 April 2020”.

‘Plagued’

Reacting on the latest NSA growth figures, Cirrus Securities said the low base for growth in the mining sector in 2019 “initially set expectations for a strong recovery in 2020”.

“However this may be plagued by weak diamond prices amidst poor global demand”, as well as the lockdown of mines in the country.

In its latest economic outlook, released in February before the outbreak of Covid-19 locally, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) forecast growth of 4.2% for the sector this year.

Tough year

According to the NSA’s stats, mining and quarrying last year pumped nearly N$16.6 billion into the economy at current prices. Namibia’s total gross domestic product (GDP) was nearly N$178.7 billion at current prices.

At such, the sector contributed nearly 9.3% to GDP, compared to 9.0% in 2018.

At constant prices of 2015, however, mining’s contribution was nearly N$13.7 billion, about N$1.7 billion less than in 2018.

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