06 Apr 2017 07:20am
By Paulus Shiku
UIS, 06 APR (NAMPA) The settlement of Uis in the Erongo Region could come to life again as plans to re-open the tin and tantalite mine here are gaining momentum following a private investment.
South African company, Bushveld Minerals Property Limited, has already started renovating the processing plant and plans to start operating soon.
The tin and tantalite mine in Uis closed down in 1991 after the price of tin dropped. Uis was downgraded to settlement status in 2010 due to economic implications because the council could not sustain its operations.
Bushveld holds a number of licences for tin mining in South Africa as well.
Its project geologist, Timothy Marais, could not say when exactly they plan to start but stated their priority is local employment.
We will take the women because they are the experts, they can spot the tin better than I do, the geologist told Nampa at the plant on Monday.
About 40 women currently mine tin and sell it to private buyers such as Erongo Tin.
Erongo Tin is one of the partners in the new project, working with the Small Miners of Uis under the Ministry of Mines and Energy and other partners.
Marais said the pilot project could initially take in 20 women and then employ 20 more if they make good progress and the project can expand.
He, however, said the local community needs to understand that this will not translate into mass employment, adding that the success of the project will determine how many jobs are created.
This community needs industries and this is exactly what we are trying to bring in so that they are able to earn a better living.
He said they will also bring in students from the University of Namibia for practical experience and mentorship.
There are no major employers in Uis and most people now get an income from gemstone mining in small quantities and employment at the brick factory and in restaurants.
Most of the young residents are unemployed.
The women who work here will earn better salaries; they will earn more than the teachers, someone working on the project joked.