April 29, 2011

Concerns Linger For Namibia's Uranium Future

Published on Friday April 29 2011

MINES and Energy Minister Isak Katali yesterday confirmed that he has received the Namibia Chamber of Mines’ written concerns about state-owned Epangelo Mining Company getting exclusive exploration and mining rights of uranium, copper, gold, zinc and coal.

The minister is expected to give feedback at a press conference as soon as possible.

“I just got their concerns and will see during the day if we will be able to attend to them and prepare for the press conference,” Katali told The Namibian.

Chamber of Mines general manager Veston Malongo on Wednesday said Cabinet’s approval of a proposal to grant exclusive rights to Epangelo is worrisome.

“We are certainly concerned,” Malango said on Wednesday at the launch of the upcoming Mining Expo.

“We have had a meeting with the minister this morning [Wednesday] seeking clarification, and he asked us to put our concerns in writing,” he said. In a broad-based state of the nation speech delivered to Parliament on Wednesday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the law was meant “to ensure that strategic minerals are exploited with the participation of the public sector”.

“It is for this reason that Epangelo Mining company was established as a vehicle for public ownership in the mining sector. I appeal to ... Parliament to speedily pass the envisaged legislation, once it is tabled later this year,” Pohamba said.

Epangelo chief executive Eliphas Hawala told Reuters the state company planned to enter into joint ventures with parties interested in exploration and mining.

“All mining rights in Namibia are vested in the state, including those currently being mined by private companies,” Hawala said.

“The issue is how these rights are controlled through licences. The timeline involved is the prerogative of the state, also depending on consultations with all relevant stakeholders,” he added. – Additional reporting by Nampa-Reuters.

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