Namibia Bans Export of Raw Minerals

On 8 June 2023, Namibian Deputy Minister of ICT Mrs Emma Theofelus announced during a briefing of Cabinet resolutions that Namibia is banning the export of raw minerals. The list includes so-called #CriticalMinerals such as #Lithium, Cobalt, Manganese and Graphite that go into the production of high-density batteries that power Electric Vehicles (#EV). Certain rare earth minerals present in Namibia such as Disprosium and Terbium that go into the manufacture of strong magnets used in wind turbines are also subject to the ban.

It is worth recalling that Namibia signed a supply agreement with the EU as part of the plan to reduce its dependence on China for #CriticalMinerals. Observers point out that the decision may be related to the controversy surrounding Xinfeng Investments which is involved in Lithium exploration in the Erongo region. It is alleged that large quantities of minerals are being shipped out of the country under the guise of sending samples for testing, thus evading taxes and royalties.

Zimbabwe banned lithium ore export in December 2022. The government of Zimbabwe is motivating miners to move up the value chain by localizing refining and processing. Initially, miners will be required to refine to concentrate but eventually, Zimbabwe would like to produce lithium batteries locally.

Namibia is among the top producers of Uranium and Diamond but its battery metals are attracting growing interest. Prospect Resources, Arcadia Minerals, Askari Metal, Celsius Resources, Namibia Critical Metals, Xinfeng Investments, Desert Lion Energy are some mining companies exploiting #CriticalMinerals in Namibia.

In May 2023, newcomer Andrada Mining started production lithium concentrate production in the form of high-purity petalite concentrate at the Nai-Nais mine. The concentrate can be further processed into lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide. Andrada Mining CEO Anthony Viljoen stated: “We plan to increase pilot-scale production of lithium carbonate for testing with potential off-takers to achieve initial lithium sales.”

As the fight against #ClimateChange steps up and the world to ban fossil-fuel powered vehicles, #CriticalMinerals are become more and more in demand. African countries are thus trying to tap into the opportunity by moving up the Global Value Chain (#GVC) in order to maximize local benefits. Nambia is thus the latest but probably not the last country to come up with a ban on raw minerals following Zimbabwe and DR Congo.