WINDHOEK – Flamboyant businessman Knowledge Katti, through his company Havana Investments, has acquired the mining town of Kombat for an undisclosed amount – placing the sleepy town into the hands of a Namibian for the first time in its history.
Katti confirmed from Brazil yesterday that he is the new sole owner of the 308-hectare town, which has changed hands between international mining companies for decades.
While Kombat remains under the auspices of the Otjozondjupa Regional Council, it has never had a town council to administer it.
The town was until recently owned by South African firm Grove Mining, which ran the local Kombat Mine.
Grove Mining sold Kombat Mine to Manila Investments, in which Katti’s Havana Investments and State-owned Epangelo Mining each own 10 percent. Kombat Copper, a Canadian company, owns the remaining 80 percent.
Kombat Copper had acquired the town from Grove Mining, but Katti’s Havana Investments has now acquired the town from the Canadian firm to all but put the town’s full ownership into the hands of the Namibian mining entrepreneur.
Previously, companies that have carried out mining operations in the area, mainly the extraction of copper, have owned the town.
Kombat is situated 37 kilometres east of Otavi on the B8 road to Grootfontein.
The town consists of a school, clinic and police station – in addition to a rugby and football field and a landing strip for private planes.
In 1999, Ongopolo Mining and Processing acquired the mine. In 2006, Kombat was acquired by Weatherly Mining Plc, who operated the mine until January 2008 when a power outage resulted in the underground flooding and ceasing of mining operations. As a result, the mill and shaft equipment were placed on care and maintenance. A year later, in 2009, a South African-based company Grove Mining acquired Kombat.
In 2012, Manila Investments, a company co-owned by Katti, which is also the holder of the mining licence in the area, roped in Canadian partners Kombat Copper, to jointly mine at the town. The two companies, plus Epangelo Mining, set up Manila Investments, which now owns the mining operations at the town.
Manila is currently drilling and the results so far are favourable, according to Katti.
The miner is exploring for copper and is considering opening the mine once sufficient resources are found.
Another option, Katti said, is to consolidate all copper resources in the area to justify the opening of a world-class copper mine in the area. Sources close to the transaction said Katti intends to soon share details with interested Namibians and invite them to invest in the town and uplift the living standards of the Kombat community.
“The aim is to start with the schools and sports facilities. Efforts will be made to attract capital and bring life to the town that has been neglected for years due to the mine closure,” a source said. Katti confirmed that Havana Investments has already engaged CENORED – the distributor of electricity in central Namibia – to invest in infrastructure for the provision of reliable power.
According to Katti, the investment and the decision to own Kombat is a manifestation of the company’s mission to continue to support and empower Namibians through innovation, smart development and partnership.
Katti said he would use his philanthropic Knowledge Foundation to work with other stakeholders including international foundations and family offices with impact investment orientations to bring smart, sustainably powered, affordable and sustainable housing for communities around Kombat. “Our goal is to create a near zero-carbon living and working space that is affordable and creates a community,” he said.
In developing the town further, the company aims to incorporate locally available technologies, train and employ local people and create another “Namibia first” in sustainable model housing development.
“One of the incentives we are considering in order to breathe new life into Kombat is to offer free or discounted land, in return for equity, to Namibian companies and other investors who would like to establish manufacturing plants in Kombat and create employment.
“We believe that there is a bright future for Kombat and we will do our best to achieve it,” he concluded.