Namibia to reopen three old mines

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Magreth Nunuhe

Windhoek – Three Namibian old mines will be brought back into production this year. Notable is the reopening of AfriTin’s Uis Tin Mine and North River Resources’ Namib Lead and Zinc Mine in the western part of Namibia in the Erongo Region.

Veston Malango, CEO of the Chamber of Mines and Energy of Namibia, announced this on Wednesday, adding that Desert Lion Energy was also in the process of redeveloping the Helikon and Rubicon lithium mine just outside Karibib, also in the Erongo Region.

The reopening of the three mines has led to the creation of 720 jobs, according to Malango.

Last year, AfriTin completed its first large-scale blasting of ore at Uis Tin Mine, which marked the first blasting of ore since the mine closed down in 1990, as a result of depressed tin prices.

Uis mine will produce tin concentrate with the Phase 1 pilot processing plant to process approximately 500,000 tpa, producing approximately 60 tonnes of tin concentrate per month, while Phase 2 will comprise a planned operation of a 3 Mtpa processing facility, producing approximately 5,000 tpa of tin concentrate.

The mine was discovered in 1911 and developed by Iscor of South Africa as the largest hard rock tin mine in the world, which started production in the 1950s.

North River Resources’ Namib Lead and Zinc Mine (NLZM) is an underground mine, located 30 kilometres from Swakopmund and 75 kilometres from the port of Walvis Bay, which was previously operational from 1968 to 1991.

The project has a current Joint Ore Reserves Committee resource of 1,120,000 tonnes, with resulting underground in-situ metal inventory of 25,900 tonnes of lead, 74,200 tonnes of zinc and 66 million ounces of silver.

According to NLZM, historically, the mine produced approximately 700,000 tonnes of ore, producing over 100,000 tonnes of lead and zinc concentrate, and over 1,000,000 ounces of silver, which would yield revenues in excess of US$100 million at current commodity prices after net smelter returns.

Desert Lion Energy is focused on building Namibia’s first large-scale lithium mine and has been involved in a number of geological surveys and research investigations since the 1930s and has since developed Rubicon and Helikon deposits, which included work on the open pit and underground workings.

The company began production of lithium concentrate from stockpiled material in December 2017.

Prior to production, there was approximately 700 thousand tonnes (kt) of stockpiled material and 100kt of fines located on Desert Lion Energy’s exclusive prospect licence, scheduled to be processed in Phase 1 of the company’s production plan, which spans a 12- to 18-month period.

Malango further emphasised the importance of attracting investment into exploration as this will increase the likelihood of new discoveries and the development of new mines.

Last year, diamonds and uranium were the drivers of the Namibian economy as they outperformed every other sector in the country, recording a growth of 22%.

“According to these statistics, the positive industry growth was driven by production increases of diamonds and particularly uranium, in comparison with 2017,” said Malango.

Meanwhile, Malango has revealed the dates for the 8th Namibian Mining Expo and Conference. The mining expo will take place 8-9 May at the Windhoek Show Grounds as the chamber celebrates 50 years of existence.

The Namibia Mining Expo and Conference will feature an exhibition by mining companies, service providers, suppliers as well as government organisations and other stakeholders.

The conference programme will feature speakers from a variety of industry players, covering topics on the re-opening of historic mines, achieving sustainable growth for Namibia’s mining industry, Namibia’s exploration potential and raising capital for exploration, upstream linkages in the Namibia mining industry and challenges arising from transfer mis-pricing, among others.

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