Known in some circles as the Land of the Giants because of the dramatic wildlife within its borders, the southwestern African nation of Namibia is also gaining a reputation as one of the best and safest places to mine in the region.
While Namibia is one of the largest countries in Africa, it is home to one of the smallest populations due to its extreme landscape. Covering approximately 800,000km2, Namibia’s vast and largely arid landscape includes one of the world’s best known deserts, mighty sand dunes, gravel plains, rolling hills, and diamond-rich coastal deserts.
The World Bank describes Namibia as a largely desert ranch land with a long coastline on the South Atlantic, bordering South Africa, Botswana, and Angola. The country’s natural mineral riches and a tiny population of about 2.5M have made it an upper-middle-income country, backed by political stability and sound economic management. Mining contributes to 25% of the country’s income and accounts for roughly 10% of Namibia’s GDP every year.\
Diamonds and uranium
On the resources front, Namibia is mostly famous for its rich diamond mining and its world-class uranium production (approximately 10% of the world’s resources). Historically, diamond mining has been the leading sub-sector of Namibia’s mining industry.
NamDeb Diamond Corporation, a 50:50 joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers, is the primary land-based diamond mining company. Debmarine Namibia, also a 50:50 joint venture between the Namibian government and De Beers, handles offshore diamond mining.
Uranium was discovered in the Namib Desert in 1928, but it was not until intensive exploration got underway in the late 1950s that much interest was shown. Rio Tinto discovered numerous uranium occurrences and in 1966 took over the rights of the low-grade Rössing deposit, 65km inland from Swakopmund.
The country’s first commercial uranium mine began operating in 1976 and numerous promising discoveries have been made in recent years. Both China and India have expressed interest in acquiring uranium from Namibia.
Road to recovery
While diamond and uranium mining currently dominate the country’s resource sector, a range of other mineral developments are set to have an impact on the country’s economy in the coming years. In the short term, Namibia’s mining production is projected to trend up around 15% in 2022 and 8% in 2023, according to recent modelling by Trading Economics.
The Chamber of Mines of Namibia is also confident that the sector is turning the corner after being significantly affected in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. “The outlook for mining is extremely positive in a commodity price environment that remains favourable for investment in mining and exploration, not to mention the consistently improving uranium price in the past five months,” Chamber CEO Veston Malango stated recently.
The Bank of Namibia’s December 2021 Domestic Economic Outlook forecast that the local economy is set to improve further in 2022 on the back of a strong mining sector. The bank said the domestic economy was expected to grow by 1.5% in 2021 and 3.3% in 2022, representing an improvement from an 8.5% retraction in 2020. It linked the projected improvements are mainly due to base effects and better growth prospects for the mining industry and most industries in the tertiary sector.
Global Credit and Macro Intelligence provider Fitch Solutions has forecast that Namibia’s real GDP growth will accelerate from an estimate of 0.2% in 2021 to 4.0% in 2022. Fitch’s mining team expects projects including Debmarine Namibia’s new diamond mining vessel, the AMV3, will boost diamond production by 17% in 2022.
Meanwhile, a host of recent success stories have highlighted the country’s rich minerals potential.
The outlook for mining is extremely positive in a commodity price environment that remains favourable for investment in mining and exploration
Canadian rare earths explorer, E-Tech Resources Inc. (TSXV: REE) has expanded its the Eureka REE Project with promising new assay results from the first diamond drilling campaign there.
Significant intersections include 9.4m @ 1.3% Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO) (ED008), 4.8m @ 1.2% TREO (ED009), 1m @ 13.4% TREO (ED017), 3.5m @ 4% TREO (ED011), 4.2m @1.2% TREO (ED017) and 1.9m @ 1.8% TREO (ED019).
CEO Elbert Loois said the results from these eight holes, all of which have intersected mineralization, have confirmed the presence of mineralization in Zones 1 and 2 at depth and its southward extension along strike. “The assay results received to date reveal further extension of the mineralization both to depth and along strike,” he added.
Namibia Critical Metals
Namibia Critical Metals Inc. (TSXV: NMI) recently completed a multiple tool geophysical survey over the Kanona Target on the Erongo Project for drill target generation over previously defined coinciding gold and arsenic anomalies.
- Combined magnetic, IP and pole-dipole EM survey targeted area of gold and arsenic anomalies at Kanona North
- Identified coinciding conductivity and magnetic anomalies point to a structural target forming a fold structure in a second order fault zone over 1.5km
- Drill plan established to test the targets with 14 RC holes of 3,700m
Erongo and Grootfontein Projects
The Erongo and Grootfontein Projects consist of three Exclusive Prospecting Licences with a total area of 1,728km2 located in the Central Namibian Gold Belt. The area hosts a number of significant orogenic gold deposits, including the Navachab Gold Mine, B2Gold’s Otjikoto Gold Mine and Osino’s more recent discovery of the Twin Hills deposit.
Osino Resources Corp. (TSXV: OSI) recently made a satellite discovery and reported resource definition drilling success at Twin Hills West (THW).
THW is a new satellite discovery drilled in December 2021, which is located approximately 3km west along strike of Osino’s current Bulge and Twin Hills Central mineral resource, which comprises the bulk of Osino’s flagship Twin Hills Gold Project in central Namibia. Drilling at THW has delineated a significant zone of potentially economic gold mineralization.
Trigon Metals Inc. (TSXV: TM) recently trucked its first shipments of copper concentrates from its mine to IXM warehouses in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
The truckload contained 31 dry metric tonnes of concentrate, grading 20.41% copper and 265 g/t silver. The truckload is the first of 400 tonnes of concentrate now produced and stockpiled at the Kombat Mine. President and CEO, Jed Richardson, said the successful trucking of initial shipments was “another tremendous milestone” at Kombat.
Ubique Minerals Limited (CSE: UBQ) has acquired 24.99% of the existing shareholding of Resource 500 V Ltd, an Irish exploration company that holds six mineral exploration licenses and applications for two more licences in Namibia.
R500 has acquired exploration Licenses (EPLs) in the Otavi Mountain Land of northern Namibia, largely covering similar geology to that which hosts the most prolific base metal mines in the history of Namibia. They include Tsumeb and Kombat.