Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo says a team of experts is investigating the alleged illegal mining and exploitation of natural resources near Uis.

The community petitioned a Chinese-owned company, Tangshan Xingfeng, last week and alleged that the operations at the mine were damaging the environment.

Residents of Uis expressed anger at the Chinese company, which mines minerals about 70 kilometers from the settlement.

The community wants all operations ceased and, in addition, N$5 million in damages for allegedly operating in a sensitive environment without consultation.

"We have dispatched a team of mining experts to go and look at the situation to see what is actually happening. Preliminary, what we know is that the company is not mining illegally; it's not that that company does not have the right to mine; that's not really what happened. I think what seems to be happening is really dissatisfaction within the community as to what they benefit as a community from those mining operations."

The Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo responded to the concerns on nbc's One-on-One program.

Alweendo indicated that the government is planning to alter the mining laws to increase the involvement of the communities in which these mining activities take place.

"It just makes sense to have a mining operation that is profitable in a particular area but that area does not have water for the community, for example. It just doesn't sound right that you can have one operation and all these, but the community does not have that, so those are just some of the things we are also strengthening within the law."

The minister says although mining companies do their social corporate responsibility in communities, it is not a legal requirement when they are awarded the licenses, and this needs to change.

"Yes, I agree with you; we could have done that earlier, but at least now, we are doing something about that to make sure that it is a legal requirement. We are putting emphasis on the ESG principle, the environmental issue, the social issue, and the governance issue. Yes, we could have done that earlier on, but at least we are doing something about it."

The current Mining Act has been in existence since 1992 and Alweendo says it is time to review the Act to be on par with the changes that are happening in Namibia.

Photo Credits
The Namibian


Renate Rengura