King Indongo after Navachab mining licence
A GROUP of black economic empowerment businesspeople allegedly colluded with some Ministry of Mines and Energy officials to wrestle a licence from Navachab Gold Mine.
The company at the centre of claims is Freelance Investments that is owned, according to company records, by Albert Shun Hung Li (60%) and Lamek Indongo (40%).
Navachab had an exclusive prospecting licence (EPL) adjacent to its current mining operations in the Karibib area for about nine years under EPL number 999 for precious metals, specifically gold.
The mine applied for a mining licence in 2012, after nine years of exploration and being satisfied that there were sufficient mineral deposits to work on. But until now, the mines ministry has not issued the licence.
While Navachab is waiting for the ministry to respond to its application, Freelance Investments was awarded an EPL under number 4479 for exploring base metals on the same block over three years.
Two companies can have different EPLs over the same area at the same time, provided they are not prospecting for the same minerals.
Last year when Freelance Investments' EPL expired, they applied for a renewal and an extension to include precious metals over the same area where Navachab has been exploring.
When Navachab inquired with the ministry on the status of its application two months ago, the mine received a phone call from King Frans Indongo, who allegedly claimed he was part of Freelance Investments.
King allegedly proposed to Navachab that they should buy the EPL from Freelance once it is renewed and approved.
When Navachab officials said there was no need to buy the EPL since they had applied, King allegedly told them that he had connections within the mines ministry who could block and delay the mine's application until next year when a new minister would be appointed.
King allegedly further told Navachab that the new minister would rule in favour of Freelance Investments' application for renewal of the EPL for metals.
Although King denied that he is trying to threaten Navachab, he admitted that he offered the mining company a partnership deal.
“I'm aware that Navachab's application is pending but that's it. We wanted to put up money so that we can develop the block but it is okay if they don't want,” he said this week. “I wanted to invest as an individual and not with a company. I don't want the block anymore.”
Asked about his connections in the ministry, King said he knows everyone in the ministry but pleaded ignorance on specific senior officials linked to their ring of connections. He also denied knowing the businesspeople linked to a company. Navachab Gold Mine managing director Johan Coetzee refused to comment, dismissing the enquiry as rumours.
“We cannot comment on rumours and would suggest that you approach the relevant authorities for factual information regarding your queries,” he told The Namibian via email.
Mines ministry sources said Navachab allegedly reported the matter to minister Isak Katali, who allegedly appeared to be sympathetic towards Freelance Investments since they are a BEE entity, despite government-owned Epangelo Mining being a shareholder in Navachab.
Katali and his permanent secretary Kahijoro Kahuure, who are said to have been briefed about the issue, both said the matter is yet to be brought to them.
“It has not reached my ears yet,” Kahuure said.
Mining commissioner Erasmus Shivolo could not be reached for comment as he is currently out of the country until next week.
King is businessman Frans Aupa Indongo's son, who profiles himself, on several websites, as a well connected businessman who leads his father's business empire - the Frans Indongo Group of Companies.
He, however, said he is not the one who writes the profiles. “I don't have any business relationship with my father,” he said.
Frans Indongo Group of Companies chief executive officer Kobus van Graan emphasised that King has no ties with his father's business empire.
“There is no business link between us,” Van Graan said.
By Shinovene Immanuel, Tileni Mongudhi: The Namibian