30 November 2017, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in partnership with Cirrus Capital authors Robert Mc Gregor, Cheryl Emvula and co-founder Rowland Brown presented a publication on Beneficiation in Namibia. As per the South African Department of Mineral Resources, beneficiation can be understood as the “transformation of a primary material (produced by mining and extraction processes) to a more finished product, which has a higher export sales value”. Similarly, the Chamber of Mines of Namibia describes beneficiation as the “further processing of mineral products into more refined and sophisticated products that generate greater value added within the domestic economy”.
These definitions, and many more, are based on a principal of processing raw materials as far as possible rather than exporting them and losing opportunities for value addition.
The report gives an overview of the state of beneficiation in the country focusing on a range of different commodities such as diamonds, uranium, gold, salt, lead and zinc to name a few. Although extremely cost intensive, there is still a growing demand for the Namibian government to improve beneficiation capacity within the country with increased skills and infrastructure, however, there are several challenges that stand in the way.
Electricity supply is a constant stumbling block with Namibia still heavily reliant on electricity supply from outside it’s borders, insufficient dam capacity for water supply and inadequate railway lines for transportation are just some of the major challenges facing the growth of the beneficiation industry in Namibia. The mouth watering opportunities of employment creation, domestic industry growth and a lower import bill must be met with caution, as each industry must be addressed separately in order to have sustainable economic strategies to get the best out of our raw materials.