WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Namibia wants foreign mining companies to start processing minerals before exporting them to create jobs and enable the government to raise more revenue through export tax, Prime Minister Nahas Angula said.
Angula said Namibia, which is planning to launch its Transformation of Social and Economic Empowerment Framework (TESEF) programme in 2011, would at some point intervene to ensure foreign mines start to add value to minerals and urged them to award more supply contracts to local people.
Namibia is one of the world’s largest diamond producers and also has minerals such as uranium, while foreign firms are also exploring for gold, lead, zinc and iron ore.
“(The) government is not in favour of the export of Namibian minerals without adding value to them,” Angula said late on Wednesday at a Rio Tinto meeting.
Angula said little had been done to include previously disadvantaged people on boards and managements of foreign companies. He proposed that a fund be set up for the mining industry to facilitate mainly training for Namibians.
“Much of what we have seen so far is window dressing and divide and rule type of employment equity,” Angula said.
Angula accused some mining companies of selling the country’s metals through paper companies.
“Neither sales taxes or transfer duties are charged for the benefit of the owners of resources... exploration licenses change hands in the similar manner,” Angula said.
Angula also urged mining companies to start repairing damaged landscape caused by open cast mining and added they must help address growing energy needs.
Rio Tinto Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese speaking at the same meeting said he expected commodity demand to rise due to economic growth in some developing countries, especially China and India, but he also expected some market volatility.
“Cost efficiency and competitiveness, together with organisational agility, is critical during this period of volatility and increased exogenous risk,” Albanese.
Albanese criticised the proposed Australian super tax on mining, which the government and key miners, including BHP Billiton and Xstrata Plc, are reported to have agreed a compromise.
“The Australian government’s proposal for the resources super profit tax on mining delivered a blow that has already damaged the mining industry, Australia’s business reputation and the Australian economy,” Albanese said.
Albanese cited nuclear safety, waste storage and proliferation as the major challenges for uranium mining.
“I remain bullish on uranium, but it’s not all a rosy upside. Our investment in uranium and Rossing will be long term and forward looking and realistic to these forces,” he said.
Rio Tinto’s Rossing mine produces roughly 4,000 tonnes of uranium per annum - or about 8 percent of the world’s output -- and plans to sustain that output until 2023.