Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development Minister Tjekero Tweya says small-miners are among the poorest socio-economic groupings in Namibia and are finding it increasingly difficult to raise capital to fund new ventures.
Tweya made this observation at the launch of the pilot phases of the Namibia Mine Stones project on Sustainable Jewellery Production and the Geopark Brandberg project at the 8th Mining Expo and Conference held in Windhoek on 8 and 9 May 2019.
“Every day of mining activity means risking lives on steep mountain slopes or inside narrow excavation sites. To make matters even worse, they often sell their gemstones far below market value. However, small-scale miners are driven to these extreme and drastic actions because they are desperately in need of income to make ends meet for themselves to sustain their families,” the minister said.
NAMIBIA MINE STONES PROJECT
The Namibia Mine Stones pilot project features three unique lines of jewellery designs, manufactured by Namibians and using only locally mined gemstones: Unique Namibia, Namibia Classic and Wild and Rough Namibia.
The jewellery will be exhibited in “Shop-in-Shop display units at all Gondwana Collection lodges and will later be made available to interested lodges throughout the country. The gemstones are mined in the Brandberg, Erongo and Spitzkoppe areas.
Rolf Adrian, Chairperson of the Steering Committee – Namibian Jewellery Industry and Coloured Gemstones and Associated Value Chains, says the project on sustainable gemstone mining, lapidary and jewellery manufacturing will “… include a local tourism component allowing interested visitors to learn about Namibian coloured gemstones and to witness the benefits of sustainable supply chain arrangements.” He said it is expected that the pilot project will be fully operational by the end of 2019.
GEOPARK BRANDBERG PROJECT
The Geopark Brandberg “… is an initiative linking the tourism and small-scale mining sector together which could create a shift towards sustainability and improved livelihoods of small-scale miners across Namibia,” says Adrian.
The Goboboseb mining site in the Brandberg West area was selected as a pilot site because of its proximity to nearby accommodation and camping facilities, its ease of access to tourists and its geological, cultural and wildlife attractions. Visitors will also be able to mine their own gemstones using a hammer and chisel.
Adrian says the site’s location creates opportunities for a two day tour, starting in Swakopmund and then continuing to Henties Bay and the Brandberg area. “The Geopark Brandberg will offer packages including on-site mining tours, geological information and guided village walks,” he says while the small-scale miners will benefit from the income generated.
Geopark Brandberg is an initiative owned and managed by small-scale miners at Goboboseb and the Tsiseb Conservancy and is supported by the Tsiseb traditional authority and local business.
The projects are a joint initiative of the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development and the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).