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Youth considers establishing minerals fund

A group of young Namibians is assessing the viability of setting up a minerals fund that will allow individuals and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in mining projects.

If operational, it will be called the Namibia Minerals Fund, and will also push to eliminate capital constraints and reduce individual risk exposure in these projects.

The fund is envisaged to be led by local mining and geological experts, who will diligently identify lucrative projects within Namibia for investment.

According to one of the envisaged fund conveners, Rafael Kalumbu, if the fund is positively received and they go ahead with its establishment, it will consider investing in the minerals of the future.

“These include lithium, graphite and rare earth metals. We will, however, maintain an open mind and still consider all other traditional minerals such as uranium, copper and gold,” he said.

Namibia’s mining industry, which is largely export-driven and dependent on international mineral resource prices, has seen growth, analysts and mining experts noted.

The outlook remains on the upside, especially with the recovery of uranium prices, new gold discoveries and pending mining investment projects in the country.

The sector, which spans over the downstream, midstream, as well as upstream sub-industries, has boomed with exploration, mine development and extraction, and minerals processing, over the years. And new players have joined the rough all in search of the rich resources, including rare earths.

The country’s national database by the mining directorate registers a total of 83 mineral producers in the country, of which 27% belong to industrial minerals (cement, salt, fluorspar, phosphate) producers and their operations are often SME in scale.

Semi-precious stones (gemstones) are next, accounting for 21 out of 83 producers (25%).

The dimension stones industry exports large slabs of granite and marble, which are inputs into the construction industry, and records indicate 14 out of 83 (17%) minerals producers belong to this industry.

The industry for base metals and rare earth elements represent 14% of the domestic mining industry.

The available resources in the country typically include gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, magnesium, zinc, silver, tin, lead, semi-precious stones and industrial minerals.

Phosphate, lithium, tantalum, cobalt, nickel and other rare earth metals such as xenotime, dysprosium, terbium are also being explored by companies such as Namibia Critical Metal Inc.

Kalumbu said there are many projects in the country that are at different stages of development and it is every Namibian’s dream that these projects are financed and developed by Namibians as far as possible.

These include: the Osino Resources gold project, Lepidico’s lithium project and Iron Bull’s copper project in the Kunene region.

For now, Kalumbu and his team said their campaign is now focused on scoping to assess viability of the fund.

“The feedback will guide us on the next steps to take. We don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” said one of the members.

It is still not clear whether the group has made any applications to regulators. However, they indicated that the mapping of all regulatory requirements is in place, but executing them in totality is subject to the interest and potential size of the fund.

“We have set up the survey such that it is easy to determine the potential size of the fund. If we are satisfied with the level of interest and commitment that ordinary Namibians are willing to put up, we will formally register the fund and fulfil all financial and general regulations before we attempt to raise the money,” said Kalumbu.

He added that it was important to understand that there are specific fiduciary duties that must be fulfilled before any money can be collected and invested, primarily to protect the interest of individuals invested with the envisioned fund.

“We are very careful not to rush or short circuit any due diligence processes,” he said.

The aim is to raise N$150 million or more.

“We believe we can do more provided our targeted projects and assets present unique opportunities to the fund shareholders. This will be a great test of Namibian skills and abilities in this industry, which I believe we should be able to demonstrate given the 33 years of independence and skills development over the years,” he said.

The envisaged fund is being sponsored by Bellatrix Investment Managers and Pamwe Royalties and Streaming (Pty) Ltd and more details can be found from the two entities.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Lasarus_A