The Minister of Mines and Energy is endeavouring to enhance the knowledge of the country’s geological resources with an investment of a whopping N$54.1 million to obtain up-to-date geoscience data.
Minister Tom Alweendo motivated the spending during his budget motivation speech for the 2021/22 financial year n which the Ministry of Mines and Energy is requesting a budget allocation of over N$212 million.
Alweendo noted that the geosciences programme will generate baseline data and information and carry out scientific research.
“Geoscience information enhances knowledge and creates awareness of Namibia’s geological system. For the current financial year, the Ministry aims to better understand the geological character and mineral potential of the //Karas and Kunene Regions. This will be achieved by acquiring and interpreting multi-disciplinary geophysical, geochemical, and geological data. This work is expected to provide the mineral exploration industry with data and knowledge that reduce risk and encourage mineral exploration in the targeted regions.” Alweendo said.
He added that the ministry also envisages spending N$62.7 million on securing the supply of energy. This programme is focused on securing a sufficient and reliable supply of sustainable electricity and reduce dependence on imports Alweendo explained.
He further noted the Ministry will oversee the implementation of three new Solar PV powerplants with a production capacity of 45MW.
“The Ministry also intends to electrify about 36 rural schools with the N$44 million which is allocated towards the rural electrification program,” Alweendo noted.
He further added that N$10.9 million would also be spent on the protection of the diamond industry.
Alweendo stated that this program is mainly dedicated to protecting our diamond resources through sound regulatory oversight.
“We intend to enhance beneficiation of locally produced diamonds in support of the growth at home strategy. The Ministry will also revise diamond license application criteria and conditions; intensify inspection and monitoring of the diamond value chain activities,” Alweendo said.
He further noted that during the 2020/21 financial year, the Ministry carried out a number of activities. Among the important activities that we undertook is the amendment of both the Mining and Diamond Acts with the view to aligning them to current and best international practices Alweendo said.
Some of the substantive changes considered in the review include the introduction of compulsory local ownership in mineral licenses, mineral beneficiation, and mine closure plans. “With regards to local ownership, we have introduced some administrative changes to make it happen. Starting April this year, Namibians who have been awarded minerals exploration and prospecting licenses (EPLs) and wishes to dilute their ownership to foreign investors, they can do so provided that they retain at least 15% ownership.” Alweendo said.
With regards to the provision of electricity, within the budget that was appropriated the Ministry managed to electrify 33 rural public institutions, such as schools and clinics at a cost of N$42 million. We were also able to electrify more than 500 rural households at a cost of N$10 million.