Erongo Governor Neville Andre has inaugurated the first ever multi-million-dollar TEA metallurgical laboratory in the country.
The lab, owned by two young Africans, Wensia Ruiters from Namibia and Kevin Mwashuma from Kenya, is located in Swakopmund. Ruiters and Mwashuma acquired the Trace Elements Analysis Laboratories (TEA Labs) in 2019 and have since expanded their operations.
TEA Labs is accredited to provide specialised support to uranium mining operators and regulators. The newly inaugurated laboratory is an addition to those services, as it specialises in geochemical and environmental analyses. This means TEA Labs can now serve all mining and environmental industries, which is a first for Namibia.
"We are here to basically capacitate the industry. Because what is happening right now is that the gap in the market is very small, simply because the infrastructure is not there. And what we basically did was just create a platform for a lot of scientists that have gone to school for a long time to come and practice their trade to create industry-specific solutions that will grow and develop our market, our mining industry, the country, and the economy. So this is basically what it is: a platform to launch a platform to create an opportunity for a lot of people to come in and create solutions," said Ruiters.
The TEA lab, which currently employs 17 people, has received praise from the Erongo Governor, who believes the facility will be instrumental in driving scientific research and innovation.
"This laboratory will serve as a vital hub for collaboration between industry, academia, and government. It will facilitate the exchange of ideas, expertise, and resources, fostering a culture of cooperation and synergy. Through such collaborative efforts, we can tackle complex challenges, find sustainable solutions, and propel Namibia towards a brighter, more prosperous future."
While touring the facility with the governor, Ruiters revealed that TEA Labs wants to improve collaboration with tertiary institutions by offering internships to students to do research.
She added that the company's Discovery Gap programme provides a platform for school-going children who are curious to explore a career in the sector.