Ministry of Mines opens can of worms

• By Erasmus Shalihaxwe

THE Ministry of Mines and Energy has backtracked on its decision to ban the Xinfeng Investment (Pty) Ltd from exporting lithium crushed ore from Namibia to China, after the ministry said the company would be allowed to export Ore between November 11 and 29 in order for the company to fulfil its contractual agreement.

Xinfeng’s export license was suspended after irregularities on the company’s operations were detected in early October this year.

In a statement released earlier this week, Ministry of Mines said the ban had been lift to allow Xinfeng to fulfil its contractual obligations but the ban would be come back into effect on November 30.

The ministry said, Xinfeng Investment, the holder of ML243 was granted approval after the ministry noted that the Chinese company had made contractual agreements with a vessel that was already en- route to Walvis Bay to pick up Lithium Ore for transportation to China prior to the Ministry cancelling the initial transport permit.

“The company will thus be allowed to transport crushed Ore to Walvis Bay to export 55 000 tons as per contractual agreement for industrial testing, which will inform whether Xinfeng establishes a processing plant at the mine. This is thus a once off arrangement and the “No exports ban” on the company will apply effective November 30, until the company’s revised mining program is evaluated and approved,” the statement reads.

This ban came, after local media reported that Xinfeng had been carrying tonnes of Lithium Ore in trucks from the Uis area to Walvis Bay destined for China under the disguise of laboratory testing, which would determine components of the ore and guide the company’s future operations in Namibia.

During a media briefing last month, Minister of Mines Tom Alweendo confirmed that the company’s operation has been halted while awaiting investigations to which the investigations found Xinfeng had abused various conditions in the license.

“We made a preliminary investigation where a technical team was sent to the site and we found out that there have been a number of transgressions committed by Xinfeng, contravening the licence conditions. This was brought to my attention, and we reprimanded them and we did so by calling them in, informing them of their transgressions before ordering them to stop operating,” Alweendo said at the time.

He said that the ministry was told that Xinfeng was exporting because they apparently received an export permit, something the ministry wanted to find out as to how and what the conditions of the export license were.

“The fact is, we have stopped the export, until such a time they comply, and also investigations are finalised. This is the directive I gave to the licensing department, Alweendo emphasised.

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