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Exploring prospects: Namibia’s mining industry and EU-Africa relations

A recent study delving into Namibia’s mining sector sheds light on Europe’s efforts to foster strategic collaborations with African nations. Funded by the EU, the AfricaMaVal project aims to cultivate responsible and sustainable partnerships between the EU and Africa for sourcing critical raw materials (CRMs) crucial for Europe’s energy and digital transitions.

Mining potential: Namibia, a developing middle-income country, has witnessed substantial growth over the past three decades, with mining emerging as a cornerstone of its economy, driving job creation and income generation. Historically, diamonds and uranium dominated the country’s commodities sector. However, today, there are burgeoning investment prospects in materials like tin, lithium, tantalum, graphite, and rare earth elements, primarily on a small to medium scale.

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Key areas of interest: The study identifies promising mining regions in Namibia, such as the Kunene region, abundant in cobalt, copper, rare earth metals, iron ore, and nickel-copper-cobalt-platinum group element mineralisations, and the Erongo region, rich in lithium, rare earth elements, tin, and tantalum. Noteworthy investments, like the Southern Namibia Mapping Program, underscore the government’s dedication to enhancing its geological database and attracting mining investments.

Unlocking potential: The study outlines Namibia’s potential output of extended critical raw materials (ECRMs), encompassing all CRMs on the EU’s 2020 Critical Raw Materials List, excluding coking coal and natural rubber, along with copper, nickel, tin, and manganese. It delineates the ECRM value chain, pinpointing bottlenecks and potential investment avenues. Moreover, it offers insights into financing regulations, taxation, royalties, and provides an overview of the macroeconomic and political landscapes pertinent to in-country financing.

Challenges and considerations: Addressing social, environmental, and governance concerns is pivotal. The report scrutinizes mining practices vis-à-vis environmental, social, and governance objectives. Namibia’s robust legal framework and mining jurisdiction, renowned for its extensive geological database and clear environmental regulations, are contrasted with challenges like a high taxation environment, trade barriers, and uncertainties surrounding protected areas.

Strategic collaboration: The Memorandum of Understanding inked by the EU and Namibia in 2022 underscores their mutual interest in forging a strategic alliance on sustainable raw materials and green hydrogen. At a workshop convened to discuss investment opportunities and challenges outlined in the study, EU Ambassador to Namibia, H.E. Ana Beatriz Martins, reiterated the EU’s commitment to partnering with Namibia for sustainable, clean, and inclusive economic growth, emphasizing the promotion of local value generation and sustainable value chain integration as pivotal aspects of this partnership.

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