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Local value addition in the spotlight

2021-04-07  Maihapa Ndjavera

Local value addition in the spotlight

The government is considering better ways of providing a clear roadmap on how natural resources, such as minerals, can be locally beneficiated to contribute to downstream industrialisation. One of the options is through the provision of feedstock and other inputs to the manufacturing industry in an environmentally sustainable way.

For this reason, the Mineral Beneficiation Strategy (MBS) was developed as an inclusive long-term modernisation and economic transformation programme to enable the substantive and sustained raising of living standards, intensifying structural change and accelerating Namibia’s industrialisation.

Beneficiation is described as any process improving the economic value of the mineral ore by removing gangue minerals, which result in a higher-grade product and a waste stream.

Launching the MBS last month, trade minister Lucia Iipumbu stated that the strategy aims to facilitate the realisation of full social and economic potential that can be derived from Namibia’s vast mineral endowment and to promote investment, trade and industrial development.

Iipumbu added that the absence of such a strategy has been a major handicap for government in the implementation of policies that promote value addition, particularly in the mining industry.

It is against this background that the government, through the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), constituted a Joint Value Addition Committee (JVAC) to oversee the development of an MBS for Namibia.

“Considering the factors such as the availability of domestic and regional resources, projected impact, and required levels of investment, the strategy provisionally identifies a selection from diamonds, coloured gemstones, zinc, industrial minerals (gypsum, dimension stone and limestone), iron and steel foundry products, battery minerals (lithium and graphite) and salt as pilot projects for mineral beneficiation in Namibia,” she outlined.

This implies that the identified commodities have the potential to be successfully processed into end-products and/or feedstock for manufacturing with relative ease, considering the identified factors.

Also at the MBS launch, Erasmus Shivolo, Deputy Executive Director in the mines ministry said beneficiation of semi-processed mineral products is necessary to enable local manufacturing, and hence industrialisation and economic development. He added that Namibia is among the world’s top ten gem-quality diamond producers, mined both on land and offshore.

According to Shivolo, intervention areas required to promote beneficiation and to enhance the competitive environment (incentives) include securing raw material and intermediate resources, skills development, research and innovation, investment attraction and retention (policies and legislations), beneficiation technology and enabling infrastructure, and marketing and trading of beneficiated products as well as environmental stewardship and sustainability.

So-called low-hanging fruits identified as possible short to medium-term viable options for mineral beneficiation and creating feedstock for manufacturing or end products include diamonds, copper, zinc, industrial minerals (clays, dimension stone, limestone), and battery minerals (lithium and graphite).  -

2021-04-07  Maihapa Ndjavera

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