Mining commissioner accused of refusing to endorse licence

Isabella Chirchir

Mining commissioner Isabella Chirchir has been accused of refusing to obey a court order to endorse exclusive prospecting licences (EPLs).

This comes after David Shikwambi, a Namibian businessman, took the commissioner and the minister of mines and energy, Tom Alweendo, to court in 2021.

According to court documents presented to The Namibian, the EPLs were supposed to be endorsed in January.

“Every time I go to her office to see the commissioner, there is always some excuse. I would be told to make appointments or that she is in meetings,” Shikwambi said. Due to the commissioner’s rejection, he has lost investors, he said.

“I have lost about two investors. One was here in January, and they said they cannot put millions into a project that is not endorsed. I was supposed to be in Cape Town at the mining indaba, but I was not able to go, because the licence, had not been endorsed,” Shikwambi said.

He said he would be filing a case against the commissioner and minister for contempt of court. In response to this accusation, the mining commissioner said she cannot comment as she was meeting with her lawyers. The battle started in 2021 when Shikwambi accused Alweendo of attempting to rob him of two EPLs of which the renewal was denied. This came after Canadian mining outfit Deep-South Resources and Haib Minerals filed an application with the High Court of Namibia to review the refusal by the minister to renew Haib Minerals a copper project licence in Namibia.

Shikwambi, who owns Gazania Investments 123, then said the refusal letter he received from the ministry, denying the renewal, was misdirected, and that the minister was busy with “tricks”.

“In the refusal letter they say my EPLs were renewed three times under Gazania Investments, but that is not the case. The three renewals were done under a different company, called Landmark,” he said. He said Gazania Investments has not benefited from the two EPLs (4404 and 4405) as the licences were only effective from 16 December 2020.

Shikwambi, however, admitted he had a few shares in Landmark Mineral Resources (Pty) Ltd, and said the ministry’s reasons for refusal were directed at the wrong company. That court case was settled in Shikwambi’s favour in December 2023.

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