Need for better oversight of mining companies identified

Niël Terblanché

The parliamentary standing committees on natural resources, economics, and public administration have called attention to what they perceive as inadequate efforts by mining companies in Namibia regarding their corporate social responsibilities.

The findings, which stem from a series of meetings last year to enhance the sectors’ contributions to the nation’s development goals, were recently presented in the National Assembly.

According to the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on natural resources, Tjekero Tweya, it has come to light that the execution of corporate responsibilities by mining firms is voluntary rather than legally enforced.

“The findings raised some questions about the consistency and impact of these activities,” he said.

According to Tweya, a particularly striking concern shared by the committees relates to several mining entities operating private airstrips.

These facilities he said could potentially be used for the illicit export of valuable resources such as diamonds.

“It’s essential that these airstrips be regulated and closely monitored to prevent any unauthorised removal of minerals,” he suggested.

Further complicating matters, according to Tweya was that the committees noted that royalty rates from mining operations are conspicuously low, which undermines efforts to promote the processing of minerals within the country rather than exporting them in their raw form.

“This not only affects potential job creation but also limits the economic benefits that could be derived locally from such activities,” he said.

Reflecting on the financial aspects of mining royalties, Tweya said that the eight billion dollars collected over five years are minuscule compared to the revenues accrued by the mines.

“This disparity points to a significant imbalance that the committees believe must be addressed to ensure that Namibia benefits more substantially from its natural resources,” he said.

The plight of small-scale miners was also highlighted.

He said that the adjustment of application fees for exploration and mining rights from N$50 to N$250 in 2021, coupled with a lack of financial backing from institutions, has left many unable to secure the necessary funds to enter the industry.

Tweya stressed the critical need for the Ministry of Mines and Energy to support these miners, particularly in valuing their products appropriately and accessing technology and certified laboratories.

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