In a media statement, Cabinet listed uranium, gold, copper, diamonds and rare earth metals as the ‘strategic minerals’ that required protection from the state.
Cabinet’s decision would imply that all rights to mine such minerals would be vested with the state-owned Epangelo Mining Company.
Cabinet’s rationale for the declaration was derived from the high interest in exploration licences currently being experienced by the state, the statement noted.
Over the years, the line Ministry of Mines and Energy had gathered geological information, most of which has been sold to the private sector for a minimal fee. The intention, according to government, had been to attract investment, particularly for the risky business of exploration.
However, the country has now established herself as a preferred destination for investment in exploration and mining, thereby requiring a much stricter control of its resources.
Since independence, the mineral exploration sector has experienced a relatively high investment in almost all categories and continues to do so. The diamond, uranium, gold and copper sectors, in particular, stand out as areas of particular interest and high investment, especially by foreign companies.
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Rio Tinto plc and Anglo American plc, the world's second- and third-largest mining companies, produce uranium oxide at Rössing mine and special high-grade zinc at Skorpion mine and refinery, respectively. The world's Number One diamond producer, De Beers, works with the Government of Namibia, through Namdeb, on a 50:50 joint venture and produced 2.13 million carats in 2008 of the world's finest gem diamonds.