Despite depressed global commodity prices that have adversely affected the world’s mining industry, the Namibian mining industry has actually created more jobs than it has lost. This is according to the chief executive officer of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, Veston Malango.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s Mining Expo and Conference, that will this year take place at the Windhoek Show Grounds on April 27 and 28, Malango pointed out that the mining industry remains the largest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product and is still the biggest export earner. “In 2014 the sector employed a total of 17 770 individuals and contributes significantly to skills development,” said Malango.
Earlier this month the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa (MIASA) said it was concerned about the large-scale retrenchments in the region as a consequence of depressed commodity prices on international markets. According to MIASA, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) lost approximately 70 000 jobs across all commodities. “Considering a multiplier effect of seven, this translates to total jobs lost amounting to 490 000. This means up to five million people have been deprived of their daily subsistence considering that each employee supports between seven to 10 dependants. To make matters worse, a further 50 000 employees face the risk of losing their jobs if something drastic is not done urgently,” read a MIASA statement dated February 08, 2016.
The regional body suggests that in order to turn the situation around for the better and to ensure Africa and in particular the SADC region is attractive for mining investment, governments need to maintain consistency in policy, only introduce policies that are well researched and engage in constant consultations with the private sector.
“Four jurisdictions in the SADC region are currently reviewing mining legislation. Any legislation change makes investors nervous for as long as there is no finality and consultation on that legislation. MIASA notes that the mining industry has had no significant investment in recent years with no major exploration projects for mining,” reads MIASA’s statement.
The association further proposed that mining ministers assist the industry by reducing the level of bureaucracy to create an environment that will make it easy for emerging miners to enter the industry.
“Governments can also create certainty by avoiding changing policy at short intervals. External investors need certainty on security of tenure to ensure long-term investment in the mining industry,” the MIASA statement continued.
During the launch of the 2016 Mining Expo and Conference, which this year takes place under the theme ‘Weathering the storm’, Malango praised Namibia’s sound regulatory regime. “The stable political climate in Namibia and the clear framework set out by the government have made Namibia the number one mining investment destination on the continent for two years running, as evidenced by the Fraser Institute Survey of Mining companies. The stable regulatory environment counteracts the low commodity prices as it boosts ongoing investment in the Namibian mining sector, the realisation of which provides a buffer in tough times. The challenge is to maintain this prestigious status in light of new policies and legislation,” Malango added.