In 2018, Namibia had two fully operational uranium mines, including the Husab mine, 90% owned by China’s public enterprise, China General Nuclear Power Holding Company and the China-Africa Development Fund. The remaining 10% is owned by Epangelo Mining, a state-owned company.
Rio Tinto entered an agreement to sell its 69% shareholding of the Rössing uranium mine to the China National Uranium Corporation in November 2018. Fitch Ratings projected uranium output growth of 20% in 2018, and forecasts production to increase by 40% over 2019, and 10% over 2020, making Namibia the third-largest uranium producer globally.
There is increased mining sector activity and exports of uranium to countries such as China, where demand for nuclear power is strong while Australia, Canada, France and the United States of America are key players in this field.
With Namibia producing around 2% of the diamonds in the world, diamond production makes a large contribution to the Namibian economy, with approximately 1.6 million carats produced per year. While traditional land based mining of diamonds still takes place in Namibia this has been largely surpassed by marine diamond recovery, which now accounts for over 60 percent of Namibia’s total diamond production.
Exports from Namibia are mainly comprised of diamonds which make up 25 percent of the country’s total exports.
Gem-quality diamonds are the most valuable product of the Namibian mining sector. They are extracted onshore and offshore along the southern Atlantic coast of Namibia by various private companies and Namdeb which is a partnership between De Beers Centenary and the Namibian Government.
The gem quality rough diamonds mined by Namdeb are sorted and valued by NDTC, 15% of the sorted and valued diamonds are then sold to Namdia (which is wholly owned by the Government) and other sight holders. Namdia then markets and sells these diamonds on behalf of Government.
The Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) is a 50:50 joint venture between the Government of Namibia and De Beers which recognises and formalises the efforts of the government and De Beers to develop a sustainable local downstream diamond industry in Namibia.
Companies that have explored for gold in Namibia include Forsys Metal Corporation of Canada on the Ondundu prospect, Teal Exploration and Mining Inc of Canada on the Otjikoto prospect, and Teck Cominco on the Vredelus prospect. Yale Resources worked on the Makuru project, the Navachab Gold Mine project and the Auryx Gold Namibia was formed to explore the Otjikoto Gold deposit as well as B2 Gold which are exploring the Otjikoto mine.
Offshore petroleum activity includes exploration on Block 1711 by the joint venture of Z.A.O. Sintezneftegas of Russia (70 percent), Petroleum, Oil and Gas Corp. of South Africa (PetroSA 10 percent), EnerGulf Resources Inc. of the United States (10 percent), and the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor 7 percent).
Onshore exploration includes that of the joint venture of Circle Oil Namibia Ltd. (90 per cent) and Namcor (10 per cent). In 2006, Mitusi Atlantic Energy BV (15 percent) joined the joint venture of BHP Billiton Ltd. of Australia (75 percent) and PetroSA (10 percent), which held Blocks 2813A, 2814B, and 2914.
The Kombat Mine is one of the most significant copper mines in Namibia, it is one of only five commercial-grade smelters in Africa. It originally commenced mining in 1962 and operated until 2008, producing 12.46 million tonnes of ore grading 2.6% Cu over this period.
The Kombat Mine’s extensive infrastructure includes an 800 meter shaft, which was completed in 2006, two other vertical shafts, and three decline shafts with ramp systems, extensive underground workings, mine buildings, a tailings facility, a mill and concentrator.
In 2006, Weatherly International plc of the United Kingdom agreed to acquire 56 percent interest in Ongopolo; Weatherly subsequently increased its equity interest in the company to 100 percent. Ongopolo operated the Kombat, the Matchless, and the Otjihase Mines.
Ongopolo evaluated the development of an underground mine at the Tschudi copper-silver prospect. Other copper exploration activity in Namibia included that of Copper Resources Corporation of South Africa on the Haib project, Helio Resource Corporation of Canada on the Honib prospect, Teck Cominco Limited of Canada on the Kaoko project, and Yale Resources Limited of Canada on the Leicester prospect.
Dimension stone is the main focus of the quarrying industry in Namibia. Quarries are situated between Swakopmund and Karibib, where the majority of resources extracted are marble and granite.
There are three main cutting and polishing plants in the country, the largest of which, the Namibian Stone Processing plant in Omaruru, manufactures stone for both local and international markets. The local markets traditionally used these stones only as tombstones, but they are increasingly being used for construction materials, and output rates are increasing yearly.