Mines tighten rules to curb ex-employee corruption

The Ministry of Mines and Energy is proposing amendments to the country’s mining regulations, with one aiming to prevent corruption by former employees of the ministry.

Mines commissioner Isabella Chirchir says the proposed changes are targeting several key areas, including administration, mineral rights and payments, borders, royalties and finances.

The change to administration regulations aims to prevent corruption.

“Currently, there are no restrictions on former Ministry of Mines and Energy employees applying for mineral rights after leaving their positions, be it after retirement or resignation,” Chirchir says.

She said this during the Natural Uranium Sustainable Development Conference in Windhoek yesterday.

The amendment proposes a ‘cooling-off period’ to prevent former employees from immediately profiting from their insider knowledge.

This means after leaving the ministry, former employees would have to wait a year before applying for mineral rights.

Additionally, the terminology for prospecting licences is being simplified.

“The non-exclusive prospecting licence (LEPL) will be renamed a ‘prospecting permit’,” Chirchir said.

Moreover, the current regulation that restricts LEPL holders from exploring areas with existing claims is being reviewed.

“The amendment proposes allowing exploration with consent from the existing claim holder, or under certain circumstances, designating specific zones for small-scale miners,” Chirchir said.

The amendment proposes eliminating the exclusivity aspect of reconnaissance licences.

“Currently, applying for an exclusive licence can be risky, because someone else may have already applied for a regular prospecting licence in the same area during the lengthy exclusivity application process,” she said.

The change would allow more open exploration during the reconnaissance phase.

The amendment also proposes an extension of the exploration period for exclusive prospecting licences.

Currently, these licences are granted for three years, followed by two-year renewals for a maximum of seven years.

The proposed changes would provide more time for prospecting activities.

Speaking at the conference, the chief economist at the Chamber of Mines, Lauren Graham, said the uranium sector provides many opportunities for local businesses to benefit from.

She said there are opportunities in the supply chain, including producing consumables and supply services.

“For example, drum manufacturing is a low-hanging fruit in the uranium sector. In the next 10 years, annual demand for drums will increase exponentially, building up to over 40 000 drums per year by 2034,” Graham said.

She said uranium is set to contribute more to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the future as demand grows.

“Uranium will stand next to diamond mining as one of the biggest contributors to GDP as Namibia’s sector continues to grow,” she said.

Graham said the sector is expected to employ 3 000 to 3 500 permanent workers by 2028, with 90% of them being Namibians.

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