N$200m Uis mine collapses

28 Jul 2013 12:00

Two years after announcing a N$200m revival of the Uis Tin and Tantalite Mine and giving an 18-month time line, businessman Knowledge Katti and a Finish company Procomex, have failed.
The mine was expected to resume activities this year employing 150 people, after Procomex secured an interest in the mine that was held by Induberg AG.
The Uis mine had been closed for over 20 years and negotiations leading to the re-opening of the mine involved the line ministry as well as the Brandberg Small Miners Associations based at Uis who were supposed to benefit from the envisaged operations.
However, nothing of that sort has occurred,  the present production is 3kg of tin ore per hour, thanks to small miners around Uis.
Uis remains arguably the largest tin-bearing pegmatite in the world stretching to Cape Cross over a distance of 130km, which makes Namibia have the largest tin reserves of about 70million tons and Erongo governor Cleophas Mutjavikua has raised concern.
“Nothing is on the ground. I don’t know whether the owner (Katti) is serious about that. Maybe he is preparing himself. Continuously they communicate  that they are still in the process but I don’t see any progress with regard to the mine,” lamented Mutjavikua.
Currently Uis does not have a council, as it was demoted and is being administered by the Erongo Regional Council.
In 2011, Katti, Procomex Namibia Director had said with the tin mine, “Namibia’s per capita GDB would exceed even those of some industriliased countries, including United States. We want to see genuine economic empowerment of our people and the creation of the situation where these disadvantaged  communities can begin to benefit from the natural resources under their feet.”
The Villager investigations have revealed that the technical work has since been stopped; these included the construction of a new processing plant, rehabilitation of the water infrastructure, mordenisation of electrical connections from Nampower.
The ore bulk sampling was not concluded although UK based engineer John McCullough who carried out the test confirmed that the ore is good for mining.
“The water for mining was not there according to the research but that was not the big problem. The problem came when all the stakeholders pulled out due to mistrust,” a document leaked to this reporter confirms.
Although efforts to contact Katti were futile as his phone was off, McCullough and Procomex have since withdrawn from the project leaving Katti alone.
Procomex is owned by Finnish magnet Ahti Vilppula, who funded former Finland Prime Minister, Matti Vanhanen’s presidential election in 2006.
Vilppula’s company did not respond to questions sent to by The Villager on whether it is true that he pulled out of the project arguing that Katti was using that project to make money through the stock exchange.
Tin was discovered by Dr. Paul of the German Colonial Gesellschaft in 1911 at Uis. In 1923, August Stauch who discovered the diamonds at Kolmanskop, boght the known tin deposits in the Usakos, Karibi, Omaruru and Uis districts. These deposits were mined under the name Namibia Tin Mines Ltd. No tin was produced during the 1930s depression and plans were laid down to min Uis pegmatite deposits on a large scale but the outbreak of World War 2 blocked the plans.
In 1958, Imkor Tin Pty Ltd bought Uis and installed an extraction plant for tin ore producing about 35 ton s an hour. In 1966, the company enlarged the plant to handle close 100 ton an hour and started building the town.
In the 1980s, the plant was enlarged to process 140 tons per hour on a 24 hour basis seven days a week.
This produced 120 tons of cassiterite (tin oxide) per month. Including the activities of the locals of taking ore from the open pits to extract ore through skotteling, Uis produced up to 100 tons per year to the mine output.
The closure of the mine in November in 1990 caused a massive in local tin production and life of Uis.
McCullough Engineers and the technical sampling three years ago revealed that the mine can produce up to 70 million tons, if revived.
The life of mine was 72 years based on 100 tons per day.
“I do not want to give mixed facts, Katti has everything. I can only update you once I check with my files but I know there has been no development,” said Mining Commissioner, Erasmus Shivolo.
Katti is also at the centre of the controversial HRT oil project which announced last week that the second offshore drilling in the Walvis Bay basin had come up dry.
In May 2013, just like in 2011 when the N$200m tin mine was announced, Katti announced at State House that HRT had found unprofitable oil, prompting questions on whether the announcement was made to boost the then dwindling fortunes of HRT on the stock exchange.