Skills shortage curtails growth in minerals’ sector

Namibia’s ambitions in the critical raw materials sector are facing obstacles such as shortages in essential skills, poor infrastructure and environmental challenges.

This is contained in a country report launched by the European Union-funded AfricaMaVal project together with the Namibian company Odikwa Geoservices in Windhoek yesterday.

The report finds that as Namibia embarks on exploring its wealth of the untapped critical raw materials sector, geoscientists, mining engineers, mineral-processing experts and digitally adept workers remain in short supply.

“This skills gap is exacerbated by insufficient graduates entering the sector, limited exposure to specialised training, and a nascent downstream industry,” the report states.

It reveals that varying project advancement within the upstream sector from early exploration to development phases highlights the need to expedite projects for economies of scale, ensuring adequate feedstock for downstream activities.

“Processing complex ores for extended critical raw minerals demands substantial water and energy. Namibia’s aridity, persistent drought, and limited water supply pose challenges,” the report notes.

Currently, only a third of the country’s power needs are met by domestic production, with Namibia heavily reliant on South Africa’s state-owned power company, Eskom.

The study warns that this reliance on external power and the high cost of energy and fuel hinder the full development of the critical raw mineral value chains in Namibia.


The study says Namibia boasts a total of 1 649 recorded occurrences of extended critical raw materials.

“Namibia remains to date underexplored despite the geology being favourable for a number of deposit styles, easy access to a wealth of high-quality geoscientific data at the Geological Survey, as well as modern infrastructure, mining laws and active mining community,” the report states.

Copper emerges as the standout commodity among Namibia’s mineral offerings, with a staggering 762 occurrences identified.
Tin, beryllium, zinc, tungsten, lithium and tantalum follow suit.

Geographically, certain regions within Namibia prove particularly promising in terms of mineral abundance.

The central zone of the Damara Belt leads the pack with a score of 16, followed by the Namaqua Belt, the northern zone of the Damara Orogen, the Richtersveld Province, and the Rehoboth Group.

The study provides an overview of Namibia’s mineral potential, analysing the mining value chain and ecosystem, the regulatory framework, and above all identifies potential investment opportunities.


On the margins of the European Union(EU)-Africa Summit in February 2022, EU president Ursula von der Leyen and the late president Hage Geingob explored the prospect of establishing a partnership focusing on sustainable raw material value chains and renewable hydrogen.

The EU’s aim is to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials, particularly critical ones, to support its green and clean energy objectives.
However, a report has identified several risks associated with the proposed partnership.

Firstly, there’s concern about the availability of skilled workers in Namibia, which has a population of three million people, to fill an estimated 3 000 skilled positions in the facility.

Additionally, there are uncertainties regarding the capital expenditure and operating costs involved in hydrogen production.

The report further states that while the process is theoretically scalable, the practical challenges of balancing wind and solar energy production, particularly at night, could result in higher costs and lower-than-expected production levels.

The EU has earmarked a total of €1,5 million (about N$30 million) earmarked in the roadmap to support cooperation between the Namibian Geological Survey and EU Geological Surveys to map mineral deposits, manage geo-data, study local refining and beneficiation and more.

EU ambassador to Namibia Ana-Beatriz Martins at the launch of the report yesterday said the EU remains committed to its partnership with Namibia on sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

“The promotion of local value generation and sustainable value chain integration between Namibia and the EU are at the core of this partnership.

“The Namibian case study will provide a blueprint for advancing on this, with concrete investment project ideas, where the EU private sector participation will have a crucial role to play,” she said.

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