27 Mar 2014 12:10pm
CORRECTION - REMOVING THE WORD MILLION IN SECOND PARA
WINDHOEK, 27 MAR (NAMPA) Namibian diamonds contributed N.dollars 2.5 billion in royalties, taxes and dividends to the State Revenue Fund in 2013, and similar levels of contributions are expected in 2014.
Mines and Energy Minister Isak Katali announced this in the National Assembly (NA) here on Wednesday whilst introducing his ministry's budget allocation of N.dollars 869 453 000.
Separately, the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) contributed N.dollars 120 million in dividends to the State as a result of the local sales of diamonds to local cutting and polishing factories, he explained.
The countrys main diamond mining company Namdeb Holdings contributed N.dollars 74 million in dividends.
Katali said much value is concentrated in a single stone.
Thus, it is imperative that diamond inspectors remain vigilant whenever diamonds are being handled or transported.
The minister further informed his fellow legislators that the beneficiation of diamonds continues to be one of the key objectives aligned with Vision 2030 and the National Development Plan (NDP) goals.
However, this sector is experiencing back-breaking challenges as prices of rough diamonds have remained stagnant. Therefore, manufacturing margins have diminished significantly, leading to some bankruptcy, he stated.
Factories have, therefore, been under immense pressure, and have been fighting for survival.
On the promotion of local and foreign investment in exploration and mining, Katali said an amount of close to N.dollars 28 million was budgeted for the 2013/14 financial year for the design and development of regional small-scale mining projects.
50 per cent (about N.dollars 14 million) of that budget was utilised in advancing the initial phases, whereas the remainder had to be suspended from the current financial year 2013/14 to allow funds to be released in the next financial year to finalise these projects.
A total of 238 exclusive prospecting licences (EPLS) were issued, while 242 mining claims were registered, he pointed out.
Out of these, 222 EPLs were granted to Namibians or companies with Namibian participation.
The construction of the Husab, Otjikoto and Tschudi mines are also all on schedule and on budget.
Meanwhile, the minister reported that during the 2013/14 financial year, three lives were lost due to mine accidents. The goal of his ministry is to have a record of zero fatalities.
The ministry will need considerable additional resources to increase regular mine visits, and intensify health and safety awareness to the industry, he stated.