High cost of water worries Erongo gemstone miners

22 Jul 2015 10:10am
XOBOXOBOS, 22 JUL (NAMPA) - Small-scale miners of gemstones at Xoboxobos have complained of the high cost of getting water to their oftenly isolated mining sites, noting that such an exercise has proven to be unsustainable.
Xoboxobos is situated some 80 kilometres east of Uis settlement near the Brandberg Mountains.
“We pay N.dollars 10 000 for 20 000 litres of water and also for transport from Uis to here, which is very expensive, but such water does not even last for two months because there are many of us depending on it.” said Gotrieb Agustus, one of the small miners at the site.
The miners raised the concern last week, when they thanked Daures Constituency Councillor, Ehrnst Katjiku for making efforts to bring them the 20 000 litres of water last month.
About 50 small miners pool money together to buy water for cooking and bathing, as they stay at the site for months, digging for gemstones to sell and make a living.
The 20 000 litres brought by Katjiku together with an electric drill and building materials used to construct a shade and storeroom; all paid for by the Daures constituency Development Fund and Erongo Regional Development Fund.
The donation is worth about N.dollars 85 000 in total.
In addition to hearing their concerns, Katjiku visited the site to monitor progress of the construction of the shade and storeroom.
The shade and storeroom currently under construction will be officially handed over together with the electric drill next week.
“Sometimes we do not have gemstones to sell to make money and buy food and water, so please continue to solicit assistance for water as the tanks are almost empty already.” pleaded Shimanya Mukopwela, another small miner at the site.
The miners also asked the councillor to not forget about them when delivering drought relief food.
They also mentioned that the mobile health clinic team must make more visits to the site because they have not been there for some weeks.
“Sometimes people get injured here or get sick, while the hospitals and clinics are too far and there is no transport at all. So it is best that the nurses come and visit us often. ”another miner, Kleopas Muhomba, pleaded.
In response, Katjiku noted that when resources and money is available, his office will try by all means to support them in terms of water and food supply.
He assured that the miners will receive drought food next month.
“Government want to make sure that you have proper equipment and the market for your products so that you can support yourselves and families. It is for these reasons that we bought a drill to help you dig for stones.” he said.
Katjiku stated that during his visit to China last month, he spoke to some business people there and requested them to buy Namibian gemstones or find a market for small-scale miners to sell their stones.
“The Chinese I spoke to promised to contact me as soon as they found someone who is interested. So bear with us while we are searching for better things.” the politician said.
The Minister of Mines and Energy, Obeth Kandjoze last month announced that Government is putting more effort into upgrading small-scale miners in Erongo.
“The idea is to assist small miners to reposition themselves. This will be done by getting clients to buy their products at national level.” said Kandjoze during his visit to mines in Erongo.
Gemstones such as White Crystal, Tourmaline, Amazonite, Tiger Eye, Sodalite, Calcite, Chrysocolla and Amethyst are hand mined.
These stones are used to make jewellery, tombstones, tiles and sculptures, among others.