Mines Ministry halts Xinfeng Lithium License

…Chinese company gets 30 days to appeal

…Muyamba rubbishes stolen mineral rights allegations

BY VITALIO ANGULA

THE Chinese company at the heart of the N$ 50 million Lithium debacle had its Mining License (ML243) cancelled after it was established the company had in the past two weeks been transporting Lithium Ore to Walvis Bay without any transport or export permits.

This was revealed by Ministry of Mines and Energy Spokesperson, Andreas Simon who said the Chinese company had 30 days to respond to the Ministry’s notice of intension to cancel its ML234.

“Currently, the company does not have either a transport or export permit. It has been established recently that over the last two weeks or so, the company was transporting Ore to Walvis Bay without any permit(s). As a result, the Ministry issued a notice of intension to cancel the ML243 (Mining License), subject to the company making representations in 30 days. The Ministry has in the interim instructed mining activities to stop.

Simon informed Confidente that Alweendo has reported Muyamba to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the former technical advisor is currently being investigated.

Simon said the company had written a letter to the ministry detailing why it should be allowed to carry on with its mining activities but the content of that letter could not be made public at this moment.

“These are strong allegations against that particular company. So, for that reason you wouldn’t want to have a company that is alleged to have been involved in such activities and you are still allowing them to continue mining,” Simon told Confidente.

He further said there are allegations of money being paid to ministry officials to facilitate Xinfeng’s mining activities.

“Because investigations are on-going and because it is alleged that there were officials at the ministry involved, it is just right for us to at least assist the law officials and relevant authorities like the ACC to do their work effectively,” Simon said.

The Lithium bribery storm is the latest corruption scandal that has engulfed the ministry charged with mining activity, the largest contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Last week the Minister of Mines and Energy (MME), Tom Alweendo, announced the removal of Erasmus Shivolo as Mining Commisioner, a position he held for the past fourteen years and has been replaced by Issabella Chirchir, who had been Deputy Director of Mining at the Ministry.

At the centre of the storm is former technical advisor to the Minister of Mines, Refeal Muyamba, who on the October 14 resigned from a position he had served as a geologist advising the Minister, on amongst others, issues dealing with licenses for mineral rights within the country.

Speaking to Confidente on Tuesday, Muyamba said he resigned to pursue business as a consultant within the mining sector after 10 years of service.

“I have been working at the Ministry for ten years. Three of those years were at the Minister’s office, the other seven years were at the geological survey division. In those ten years I learned that there are actually opportunities in mining as a consultant. I resigned to go build my business. I have two businesses, one is for Geological Consulting and the other is a full-time practice in the sector. My company, Erongo Geo-Science Services focus on geological consulting and the other one, Dolomite Mining Services, focus on actual mining,” Muyamba informed Confidente.

Muyamba further said allegations levelled against him regarding stolen mineral rights were not true as he was never, during his time at the Ministry, in a position to influence the awarding or transferring of mining rights.

“The Ministry does not distribute mineral rights. The committee that evaluates applications for mining rights is the one that recommends to the Minister for final approval and this committee is made up of internal ministerial staff and also staff from the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Fisheries,” Muyamba said.

Muyamba is adamant that he has done nothing wrong. Even though he acknowledges that his cousin Shifwaku benefited from EPL, he is adamant he had no direct involvement in that regard.

FOR MORE: GRAB A COPY OF THE NEWSPAPER