Africa must add value to minerals to industrialise their economies - Alweendo
WINDHOEK – Africa has the opportunity and potential to capitalise on its diamond resources if exploited in a responsible and sustainable manner. This message was delivered yesterday in Windhoek by Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo during the opening of the sixth Ordinary Meeting of the Association of the Diamond Producing Countries (ADPA) Council of Ministers.
“It is therefore important for ADPA member states to explore ways to add value to minerals that are economically viable including diamonds, in order to industrialise their economies,” said Alweendo during his welcoming address.
According to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which is the process established in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market, African countries such as Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Sierra Leone rank in the top 10 diamond producing countries in volume and value globally.
In addition, the most expensive diamonds in the world are produced by Cameroon, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Lesotho, with a value ranging from US$300 to more than US$500 per carat, in comparison to the global average value of US$315 per carat.
“This indicates that Africa has the opportunity and potential to capitalise on its diamond resources if exploited in a responsible and sustainable manner. That way, we will ensure that diamond generated income is channelled towards building of educational and health institutions, improving road and network infrastructure and meeting other pressing social-economic needs,” said Alweendo.
The mines and energy minister continued that the African Mining Vision calls for promotion of downstream value addition, with a view to establish beneficiation industries that could provide stock for local manufacturing and industrialisation. This, said Alweendo, is to promote more fiscal space and responsive taxation to allow countries to better capture revenue gains and encourage the use of revenue for value addition and linkages.
“Despite Africa’s potential in optimising its benefits from its mineral resources, diamond production and diamond producing countries still face dynamic threats and challenges. Some of these include; the introduction of synthetic diamonds into the market, which are competing with natural diamonds; increased mechanisation of mining processes that negatively impact employment and consequently the livelihood of mining dependent communities; inadequate management of diamond related revenue; weak regulatory and institutional frameworks in particular law enforcement, lack of sufficient technical capacity; lack of transparency and accountability to combat illicit activities, the list continues,” Alweendo noted.
He emphasised that the future role of ADPA should aim at driving the beneficiation agenda by developing the diamond downstream industry through exchange of relevant information and expertise in the area of beneficiation and mainstreaming of alluvial artisanal and small-scale miners into the formal economies, to mention a few.
The ADPA was formed in 2006 when African diamond producing countries convened in Luanda, Angola, having realised that diamond resources are one of the main contributors to their socio-economic development; and recognised the need to establish a forum to harmonise policies and legislations governing diamonds resources among others. The Luanda meeting resolved to establish a permanent consultative forum to ensure the promotion of strategic interests on the global arena. The ADPA was established in accordance with the Luanda Declaration of 2006 and the ADPA Statute.
According to Alweendo, the ADPA has played a significant role, particularly in consolidating views of African producing countries. “For example, ADPA has been instrumental in the restoration of the Republic of Zimbabwe back into the Kimberly Process after economic sanctions were imposed against their exportation of rough diamonds. The same support has been extended to the Central African Republic (CAR) and is ongoing”, Alweendo added.
In 2012, the African Development Bank reported that the mining industry prospects in Africa showed that mineral production represents only about eight percent of the world mineral production. These are broken down into bauxite seven percent; cobalt 60 percent, copper 9 percent, gold 20 percent, iron ore 2 percent; lead 2 percent; manganese 38 percent; diamonds 56 percent; coal and petroleum 12 percent; and uranium 18 percent.
Said Alweendo: “Most of these minerals are however, exported in raw form as concentrated ore without significant value-addition. In order to achieve the afore-mentioned role, ADPA needs to have adequate and appropriate resources, assist member states whose diamond production depends on under developed alluvial artisanal and small-scale sectors to put in place and harmonise appropriate legislations, as well as, replicate best practices among member states.”
2019-07-10 09:44:15 9 days ago