The Chamber of Mines of Namibia has welcomed the government’s decision, made last week, to ban the export of unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals.
The mining sector grouping stated that the decision will not have a negative impact on its members’ future plans.
“It is necessary for the government to control and regulate the export of unprocessed critical minerals to support job creation and grow the economy in line with the African Mining Vision,” said Veston Malango, CEO of the Chamber of Mines, on Monday.
“The Chamber of Mines thus recognises that the intention of this directive is to ensure that Namibia does not lose out on any potential local value addition.The measures taken by Government do not inhibit the valuable work being done by companies in Namibia, that intend to establish mining operations and processing facilities.”
The mining sector grouping, however, said the requirement for an endorsement by Cabinet on exports of ore in small quantities may unintentionally delay genuine test work being carried out by its members for purposes of critical metallurgical test work required in the design of the much-needed processing plants in Namibia.
“In this regard, the Chamber CEO explains that the Chamber intends to proactively engage the Minister of Mines and Energy so that exports of minerals for such purposes should not be unreasonably delayed. The Chamber will proactively engage the government to collectively identify processing and value addition opportunities for Namibia’s critical minerals, and determine the necessary enablers to make Namibia an attractive destination for investment in value addition opportunities,” said Chamber of Mines President,Zebra Kasete.
According to the announcement, Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo will have discretion regarding the export of small quantities of the specified minerals.
Following this decision, Namibia now joins Zimbabwe in demanding that all locally mined lithium be processed domestically. In December, Zimbabwe implemented a ban on raw lithium exports, aiming to prevent the smuggling of lithium ore and encourage local processing.
Lithium is expected to be in high demand from 2025, with its value projected to reach N$13.9 billion. This has the potential to boost Namibia’s export earnings and revenue, as projected by a research firm.
According to projections from Simonis Storm, it is expected that lithium will contribute N$4.6 billion in revenue to the government in the extreme case and N$1.7 billion in the conservative case.
In a report on the Lithium Industry in Namibia, the firm notes that the revenue to the government from the local lithium sector would be the largest compared to all other commodity mining operations in Namibia.