Diamond licence criteria to be revised

By Hilary Mare

THE Ministry of Mines and Energy has set aside N$10.9 million which among others will be used to revise diamond licence application criteria and conditions.
This was said by mines and energy minister, Tom Alweendo while motivating the ministry budget vote which sought an allocation of around N$212 million for the 2021/22 financial year.
In one of the programmes earmarked for the protection of the diamond industry, Alweendo noted that apart from revising diamond licenses application criteria and conditions, the ministry will also intensify inspection and monitoring of the diamond value chain activities.
“This programme 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. In addition, the ministry will continue to build the necessary skills and expertise in-house, in the areas of diamond sorting and valuation,” Alweendo further said.
During the 2020/21 financial year, the ministry carried out a number of activities and among the important activities were the amendment of both the Mining and Diamond Acts with the view to align them to current and best international practices.
“In this regard, we were able to identify areas that needed a review and managed to conduct various stakeholders’ engagement. Some of the substantive changes considered in the review include the introduction of compulsory local ownership in mineral licences, 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 wish to dilute their ownership to foreign investors, they can do so provided that they retain at least 15 percent ownership,” Alweendo further said.
The minister also motivated for a programme to promote investment in exploration which aims to regulate the mining industry, promote mineral resources potential and attract investors.
“Through this programme, the ministry will finalise the redrafting of both the Mining and Diamond Acts. It is planned to table both bills in Parliament during the financial year. To further enhance transparency and efficient service delivery, the ministry is exploring the introduction of online mineral rights application system. More efforts will be geared towards enforcement of laws and conditions of licences to ensure that operations are conducted under safe conditions,” he said.