Namibia has 200 abandoned mining sites requiring rehabilitation

Giesberta Shaanika

A senior official in the Ministry of Mines and Energy says Namibia currently has approximately 200 abandoned mining sites requiring rehabilitation.

Geological Survey of Namibia engineering geologist Giesberta Shaanika recently made a presentation on the risk assessment of abandoned mines in Namibia at a one-day environmental governance compliance workshop on small-scale mining held at Karibib.

Shaanika said abandoned mining sites in Namibia are a legacy dating back to the 1900s, where the main mining activities were focused on gold, copper, zinc and silver, with no consideration of environmental protection.

“As a result, we have a legacy of 200 abandoned mining sites thus far in Namibia. This is quite a big number. We have to rehabilitate them and we have few resources,” said Shaanika.

One of the challenges faced by the ministry is that there is no mining closure framework in the country, which should include the small-scale sector.

Shaanika said the ministry is conducting a mining closure inventory, of which is 50% completed, and once completed, will be shared with other stakeholders.

At the moment, there are 900 small-scale mining claims in Namibia.

The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through a global collaborative environmental programme between the UNDP and the Swedish Environmental Agency, aimed at providing resources to mineral rich nations to integrate environmental governance into small-scale mining activities, so that small-scale mining activities are conducted in an environmentally sound manner. These countries are Namibia, Equador, Colombia, Liberia, Mongolia, Peru, Kenya and Zambia.

In Namibia, the programme is embedded in the UNDP’s Sustainable Environmental Management for Enhanced Resilience portfolio, whose focus areas are climate change adaptation, environment and waste management, climate change mitigation, natural resources management and sustainable livelihoods.

In Namibia, UNDP decided to collaborate with the Ministry of Mines and Energy to put together a project titled ‘Strengthening Environmental Governance and Improving Health and Safety in Critical Small-Scale Mining Hotspots in Namibia’.

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