Kandjoze said this on Wednesday when he officially opened the sixth Mining Expo organised by the Chamber of Mines.
The annual expo brings together local and intentional stakeholders in the extractive sector.
The mines minister also launched the diamond hub at the expo, a concept which was spearheaded by Namibia Diamond Trading Company to bring all players in the diamond sector under one roof.
In his opening remarks, the minister commended the mining sector for its continued significant contribution to the country’s revenue, with N$25 billion having been generated in 2016.
“Despite the mining industry experiencing a downturn in commodity prices and increasing financial market volatility during 2016, it is absolutely commendable that the industry was able to contribute N$25 billion to the State Revenue Fund.
“Let me at this juncture loudly commend you (mining industry) for your resilience and for your continued belief in the prosperity of Namibia amid daunting challenges,” Kandjoze said.
This comes at a time when Government has pinned hopes on the mining sector to spur economic growth, with the Bank of Namibia warning that continued decline in global uranium prices could negatively impact the domestic economy, which is forecasted to grow by 2.9 percent this year from a marginal 0.2 percent growth last year.
The mines minister said Government was moving ahead with the implementation of NEEEF, with the mining sector also expected to comply with the proposed regulations, which he expects to come into law in four to six months’ time.
“Since my tenure as the Minister of Mines and Energy, I have travelled this country extensively and consulted widely on that very topical issue with the mining fraternity. The poverty statistics and the meaningful participation of locals in Namibia are disheartening and many of our people strongly believe that they are not equitably benefiting from the natural resources.
“As a result, the mining sector has been recognised and as such prioritised moving the nation towards the goals and objectives as outlined in Vision 2030 and national development plans,” he said.
Kandjoze said his ministry remained committed towards reviewing various policies covering the sector, with progress being made towards the conclusion of the Minerals Bill.
“Efforts in reviewing the White Paper on Energy have progressed very well. The priority of the Ministry of Mines and Energy is to finalise the Minerals Bill, which is at a very advanced stage, in tandem with the review of the Minerals Policy such that same is aligned to the African Mining Vision,” he said.
“The development of the Minerals Beneficiation Strategy remains key to the ministry in ensuring the sustainability of the sector and export of value-added mineral products.”
Kandjoze said although his ministry had managed to clear 421 licences, it was still awaiting the companies to comply with the issue of local participation and empowerment.
“Ministry welcomes the creation of the employee ownership schemes, but I must, however, emphasise the fact that this should not be construed as a substitute for the five percent participation in all licences to Namibians, especially with the view to create community trusts as a way to provide extended participation for the marginalised groups such as the poorest of the poor, women and the youth. “On the (20 percent), historically disadvantaged Namibians who should form part of the management structure, I would like to implore you to ensure that there is meaningful empowerment and transformation,” he said. Kandjoze said Government continues to address logistic and water challenges faced by the sector, as part of its efforts to create a conducive operating environment for the sector.
“Government remains committed to creating a conducive and enabling environment for the industry to prosper, as seen through efforts to improve logistics infrastructure. For example, the purchase of six locomotives and 90 sulphuric acid tanker wagons for TransNamib to transport sulphuric acid to mines, the continuing upgrade work on the railway line and the upgrade of the Namibian harbours. We also recognise that the development of the mining industry is intricately intertwined with the availability of stable water and energy supply,” he said.
“On that score, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and NamWater have come up with a basket of projects to address the security of water supply resources that would address short-, medium- and long-term needs in the context of common drought cycles our country experiences. Through the Cabinet Committee on Water Supply Security, Government is addressing the challenges of water scarcity.”