SWAKOPMUND - A full report by the parliamentary standing committee on natural resources concerning illegal lithium mining after hearings were conducted in the Daures constituency in May, is still being awaited.
This was revealed by parliamentarian Tjekero Tweya, who was part of the committee, during an engagement with the Erongo governor and councillors in the region yesterday.
Tweya, together with Kletus Karondo, Maria Elago, Bernardus Swartbooi and Maria Kamutali visited the Daures constituency as well as the lithium mining sites in May to conduct public hearings following Landless People’s Movement (LPM) parliamentarian Henny Seibeb’s motion on 6 April.
Seibeb had asked during the tabling of the motion that government should impose a moratorium on lithium mining to determine the real value of the rare earth metal, as well as the legality of operations in that constituency.
Tweya, however, said yesterday they found very serious anomalies during their hearings and visits to mining areas. He described their findings as horrible and shocking, and that the report raised more questions than answers.
“However, the report is not complete yet. We will now allow the executives (mines and energy ministry and labour ministry) to respond to our findings so that it is a report that has given everybody an opportunity for their input because we’re not here as a committee or as parliament to make the others look bad. That’s not the purpose, but to work together,” he noted.
Tweya said this report could be instrumental in addressing laws which could be lacking to improve the overall operations of the mining sector.
He added that what they found at the Xinfeng Lithium mine in Uis was shocking.
“The media was there, and have visuals of what we found there. Most shocking were the labour conditions. We understand that those are our findings, but the minister found everything to be fine and legal. That is his responsibility. However, we don’t listen to the minister, but rely on our findings,” Tweya stressed.
Shocking disparities were witnessed first-hand by the standing committee and journalists during a visit to the mine, about 60 kilometres from Uis, and during the public hearing on alleged illegal lithium mining in the Daures constituency,
Tweya said the living conditions of Namibian workers at the lithium mine were worrisome as it exposed how Namibian workers were poorly treated, while their Chinese counterparts lived in comfort.
“It was horrible. We found that people had to queue up even to help [relieve] themselves, even if you were running into your neighbour. At least they should improve on that,” he continued.
As for the report, it will be tabled once the line ministries respond to their queries, as their findings raised more questions than answers.