Namibia - Country Commercial Guide
Mining and Minerals

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-20

Overview

Mining, Namibia’s leading economic sector, accounts for roughly 10 percent of Namibia’s GDP every year.  Historically, diamond mining has been the leading sub-sector of Namibia’s mining industry.  NamDeb, 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 off-shore diamond mining.    

Namibia is the world’s fourth-largest producer of uranium oxide.  The nuclear industry continues to fuel the demand for uranium.  In 2018, the Husab open-pit uranium mine produced 3,028 tons of uranium oxide, making it the third-largest uranium mine in the world.  Husab is owned by a subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Company.  The mine represents one of China’s single largest investments in Africa.  Following a uranium deposit discovery in 2008, Husab mine produced its first drum of uranium oxide for export in December 2016.  As of 2018, the operation accounted for 6 percent of global uranium production.  

The Rossing Uranium mine, also situated in the Namibian desert, is the fifth-largest producer of uranium oxide in the world.  The mine contains the largest uranium deposit in the world associated with an igneous rock, and in 2019 it produced 2,102 tons (or 4 percent) of the world’s uranium.  Rossing is also one of the longest running uranium mines globally, having begun operations in 1976.  The mine is majority owned by China National Uranium Corporation (CNUC).  

Namibia is also a leading producer of zinc.  There are two operational mines:  Skorpion Zinc (operated by Vedanta Resources) and Rosh Pinah (owned by various shareholders, with Exxaro Base Metals owning the largest interest at 46 percent).

Lodestone, a mining company with U.S. shareholding, is extracting iron ore deposits in eastern Namibia.  The Lodestone Dordabis mine, the first operational iron mine in Namibia, commenced production in 2015.  The magnetite and hematite products are being sold to local niche consumers, such as Ohorongo Cement.  Local sulphuric acid and iron ore production are consumed as inputs by Namibian operations, exemplifying how mining sector growth leads to the expansion of up-stream and services sectors.         

Namibia is an up-and-coming source country for critical minerals, which are important for renewable energy technologies.  The country has the potential to develop new mining projects for cobalt and lithium.  Global lithium exploration and development company Lepidico Ltd. is developing a lithium mine in western Namibia and is in discussion with multiple U.S. companies on possible off-take for its lithium and by-products cesium and rubidium, which the U.S. Department of Interior lists as among the 35 minerals critical to national security.   Desert Lion began shipping lithium ore in 2018, with a first shipment of 30,000 tons.   Gecko Opuwo Cobalt is developing a cobalt deposit in Kunene Region.     

Other large mining operations include:    

Mining Company

Ownership

Product

Weatherly Mining Namibia

Weatherly International*

Copper mining

Okorusu Fluorspar

Solvay Fluor

Fluorspar (CaF2)

Otjosondu Manganese mine

Shaw River Manganese

Manganese

Navachab

AngloGold Ashanti

Gold

B2Gold

Otjikoto Mine

Gold

Desert Lion Energy

Desert Lion Energy, Inc.

Lithium

Gecko Opuwo Cobalt

Gecko Namibia, Pty.

Cobalt

 Leading Sub-Sectors


The Namibian mining industry is well-developed and sophisticated.  Many local equipment and service providers exist to facilitate the distribution of foreign goods or services.  U.S. goods and services in the following fields are well represented in Namibia (although South Africa and Europe are the largest sources of foreign mining equipment):

•    Hauling vehicles and excavation equipment
•    Software
•    Furnaces
•    Drill Rigs
•    Automated Controls
•    Mining Processing
•    GPS Mapping
•    Communications Systems
•    Materials Handling Technology

Namibian mining companies frequently seek used mining vehicles and excavation equipment in good working order.  U.S. companies have sold used equipment to Namibian firms in the past.  Namibian customers will require warranties on the purchases of used equipment.

Opportunities

There are many companies engaged in exploration and mining activities for various metals/minerals.  This creates opportunities for U.S. companies to supply mining equipment to Namibian mines.  Many mining operations are also interested in attracting international investment to support increased exploration activities.    Desert Lion Energy began shipping lithium concentrate from Namibia’s first large-scale lithium mine in the Erongo region of Namibia in April 2018. Cobalt has been discovered near Opuwo in the Kunene Region of Namibia.    

For a complete listing of companies and the types of mining licenses they have been awarded, check the Ministry of Mines and Energy website (see resources section below).  The Ministry typically publishes an up-to-date list of different mining license types monthly.    

The U.S. Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Trade Development Agency have added considerable value to numerous African mining operations and enhanced opportunities for U.S. businesses. (See Chapter 7: Trade and Project Financing for additional information on these agencies.)

Resources

  • Chamber of Mines of Namibia:    
  • Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME)    
  • United States Geological Survey

Namibia’s Mining Policy is governed by several laws, including the following:

•    Minerals Act 1992:     www.lac.org.na/laws/2008/4189.pdf
•    Diamonds Act 1999:     http://www.mme.gov.na/pdf/diamond_act_of_1999.pdf

Minerals Policy to ensure the continued sustainability of the industry and its contribution to Namibia’s socioeconomic development: www.mme.gov.na/files/pdf/minerals_policy_draft_final.pdf