The African Tin Champion in Namibia
Bushveld Minerals attended the Junior Indaba held last week on the 7th-9th June. We occupied a seat on the stage as part of the “My Country is Sexier than Yours!” panel discussion chaired by International Finance Corporation’s Senior Investment Manager Sacha Bakes. On this panel, our Non-Executive Director, Anthony Viljoen represented our Namibian jurisdiction alongside representatives from other mining companies with operations across Sub- Saharan Africa; including, Boris Kamstra, CEO of Alphamin Resources and Investment Executive at Pangea Exploration (DRC) as well as Lepate Vincent Ramokate, Managing Director of VinMarsh GeoConsultants (Botswana).
Before we get into why Namibia is “sexier” than all of the above-mentioned countries let us give you a bit of background into our country-based operation, Uis Tin Project:
Greenhills Resources is Bushveld Minerals’ tin platform and the African tin champion where we are establishing a portfolio of low cost, open cast deposits, initially targeting historically tin producing regions, with a near-term production profile.
The Uis tin project is one of the largest modern opencastable deposits of its kind with 3 project areas in Namibia, lying approximately 275 km northwest of Windhoek in the Brandberg – Erongo region. All three areas have been important tin producers. At one point, the Uis Mine held the honour of being the largest hard rock tin producer of its kind in the world.
When it comes to tin there has been a supply deficit for four consecutive years. Open cast operations are limited and 56% of the tin production comes from underground operations. Ours on the other hand is a simple open pit, bulk mining proposition with easy liberation of cassiterite form the host pegmatite through gravity based separation. There is certainly a strong demand from a robust consumer electronic market for both tin and tantalite.
While other large tin resources will possibly be found in politically and economically difficult regions, Namibia is a very mining friendly jurisdiction, here is why:
Geological endowment: How explored is Namibia and are there further opportunities?
Many of the previously mined deposits clearly warrant a geological review with mapping followed by modern ore body modelling techniques. Something that we are starting to do on a number of deposits in addition to Uis itself. We also believe that only a limited amount of exploration, generally speaking, has taken place in the past and we are aiming to target our unique set of geological skills to discover a new generation of mineral deposits in the country.
Commercial attractiveness / fiscal regime: Are incentives commensurate with the risks?
Namibia is one of the most favourable investment destinations in Africa when it comes to mining and exploration with a transport infrastructure working in close collaboration with industry.
The country has recorded a 5.7% growth rate with regards to its economy in the last five years which is evidence of stability as well as a friendly business environment attracting business from the SADC region as well as other parts of Africa. Independence of the judiciary in the country protects the interests of investors, providing a safe space for them when experiencing any legal setbacks.
Infrastructure bottlenecks (transport, power, etc): Their significance and affordability.
Several mines in Namibia rely on railway infrastructure in order to transport their products. This is the main form of transportation; however, the railways are not continuously the only form of transportation. There is an existing road network that is continually maintained and slowly being upgraded. Railways are not as effectively maintained or operated which sometimes requires mines to make use of congested roads; hence product transportation takes place as a combination of rail and road which can at times prove to be costly in terms of fuel.
Namibia has also been experiencing shortages in water supply, which negatively affects the normal operation of mines within the country’s central districts and ultimately decreases the productivity of mines. We are lucky in that our deposit lies close to the port of Walvis Bay and we have access to a large underground aquifer, which solves our water problem.
Governance / transparency (ease of doing business): Our daily experience, impact on fund-raising?
It is relatively easy to start a business and establish a bank account in Namibia. The Chamber of Mines continues to be our voice and watchdog and we are receiving fantastic service from them, engaging with the MME where we see issues that take time to be resolved
Change in Government personnel at a ministerial level with the introduction of Minister Obeth Kandjoze has resulted in a seamless transition, while highlighting the importance of local Namibians in licence applications and the empowerment of women into the mining sector. Despite being linked to South Africa from a currency and an economic point of view, we don’t think the downgrade to junk status has deterred the investment climate in the country and remain optimistic and committed to our deeper involvement in the mining sector.
In retrospect, there is not much we would change about our jurisdiction if we had to do things all over. We would rather just bask in the environment and re-examine the fantastic geology and mining opportunities Namibia has to offer and apply for more licences while we’re at it.