Mining industry stays positive amid challenges

The Chamber of Mines is concerned with new tax proposals in the Income Tax Amendment Bill of 2018.

03 December 2018 | Business

We are consoled by the robust fundamentals of the uranium markets in the medium to long term. - Zebra Kasete, President: Chamber of Mines of Namibia

The president of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, Zebra Kasete, says the country's mining industry continues to grow despite various challenges experienced this year.

Speaking in a mining industry briefings to the minister of mines and energy, Tom Alweendo, last week, Kasete said this year commodity markets continued to be volatile. The uranium market is still being very depressed, a situation that forced Langer Heinrich to lay off about 600 workers.

"We are, however, consoled by the robust fundamentals of the uranium markets in the medium to long term. Indications are that the markets may recover by 2022, at which point the two mines [Langer Heinrich and Trekkopje] on care and maintenance will come back into production and at least five uranium projects will advance to mine development," he said.

"The challenges are being addressed and the mines may come back into operations again when market conditions improve," he added.

Kasete told the minister that investments into new mines are currently taking place and the ministry will soon officiate some of the operations.

"New operations include the reopening of the Namibia Lead and Zinc mine outside Swakopmund, the Whale Rock Cement factory with a mining license over its quarry, and the revival of the Uis tin mine which was closed down in the early 1990s," he said.

Tax

Kasete said the chamber is concerned with new tax proposals in the Income Tax Amendment Bill of 2018.

"Some of these proposals are so devastating to the industry and thus counterproductive to the objective of growing the economy," he said.

Alweendo said in a statement that despite the challenges the industry is faced with, mining activities in the country continue to contribute significantly to the economy and national development agendas.

Rössing

The ministry has not yet received the agreement on the sale of the Rio Tinto shares in Rössing Uranium Mine in which government has a stake.

A statement issued on Friday by the permanent secretary, Simeon Negumbo, said the ministry could not speculate on any conditions that may be imposed on the transaction until it had studied the agreement and subjected it to the relevant laws.

Rio Tinto entered into a binding agreement with China National Uranium Corporation (CNUC) for the sale of Rio Tinto’s entire 68.62% stake in Rössing.

Negumbo stated that Rio Tinto had indicated to its shareholders that it had intentions to sell its stake of the company and to exit the business and that the MME was informed last year of the negotiations between Rio Tinto and CNUC for the purchase of its shares.

“If Rio Tinto’s shares are sold, the other shareholders mentioned above will still be part owners of the company,” he said.

The Namibian government owns 3.42% of shares in the uranium mine, while Iranian Foreign Investment Company has 15.29%, Industrial Development Company of South Africa 10.22% and other minority shareholders 2.45%.

Negumbo added that the sale was a private share transaction between the two parties and was subject to certain government approvals which include the MME and the Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC).

The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019.

Meanwhile, the mine will continue operating under its existing and planned programmes until otherwise informed by the board of directors or management of Rössing Uranium Limited, according to the company. – Nampa and Nampa/Xinhua

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