Saturday 15 May 2021
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Kandjoze engages diamond industry

Mines and Energy minister Obeth Kandjoze is worried over the mass exporting of rough diamonds out of the country and revealed that measures aimed at making the monitoring measures more effective will be announced soon. Speaking at the mining industry engagement session this week, Kandjoze said the continued mass exports “undermines” government’s efforts to eradicate poverty. “The continued mass exports of rough diamonds undermines the concerted efforts government is making to eradicate poverty, unemployment and improve the lives of ordinary Namibian citizens. I would hereby like to make a plea to those that are exporting a significant proportion of the rough purchased from NDTC to reconsider the practice,” pleaded Kandjoze.
In the same breath, Kandjoze lamented the fact that, out of all diamonds sold by NDTC to its customers in the past year, a “significant proportion was exported without being cut and polished in Namibia.” “Based on export data provided to me by the Office of the Diamond Commissioner, only about 20% of the total beneficiation sales made by NDTC during 2016 were processed in locally. I would like to make it categorically clear that the current trend of high rough exports is of grave concern to my office and the Namibian Government in general,” lamented Kandjoze. Kandjoze also highlighted the importance of “timely and accurate” monitoring of rough diamond exports by the Office of the Diamond Commissioner.
Moreover, he lauded the recent cooperation and close working relationship between the Office of the Diamond Commissioner and NDTC saying it further strengthened Department’s ability to monitor rough exports.  Kandjoze said the Office of the Diamond Commissioner is expected to communicate additional measures aimed at making the monitoring process much more effective.  He called on all stakeholders to support the diamond commissioner when it comes to ensuring the ease of monitoring. Furthermore, Kandjoze acknowledged the concerns raised by certain sectors in the mining industry over NDTC’s allocation process.  “NDTC’s allocation process at this stage does not take into consideration the import of rough diamonds to either augment or supplement the rough purchased from NDTC.  I do appreciate that rough imports ultimately supports beneficiation activity on the ground and have tasked the Department and NDTC to come up with a solution around this,” he said.
Kandjoze further charged that “under no circumstance” will his ministry allow a situation whereby the exportation of the country’s most precious mineral is taken advantage of, adding that the exploration to find ways to streamline the process governing the movement of rough diamonds within the borders of Namibia is underway.  “This is an issue that has been highlighted on a number of occasions by the industry and we fully understand the impact that it currently has on the length of the manufacturing cycle in Namibia.  We will be engaging with Customs and Protected Resource Unit (PRU) to see how we can streamline this process whilst at the same time making sure the industry continues to adhere to the provisions of the Diamond Act,” stated Kandjoze. Moreover, through a number of consultative meetings with NDTC and the Department, it was established that a lack of funding and the absence of grading laboratories in the country were among the factors that hamper the growth of the cutting and polishing industry in Namibia.  In his quest to address the challenges faced by the Namibian diamond cutting and polishing sector, Kandjoze tasked NDTC to engage with various financial institutions and grading laboratories to find solutions to the issue. In the meantime government will also explore alternative funding mechanism aimed at easing some of the funding pressures the mining industry is currently experiencing, said Kandjoze.
Kandjoze said government is considering the downstreaming diamond beneficiation activities which are “crucial” in realizing both the National Development Plans (NDPs) and Harambee Prosperity Plan.
“Let me assure you that the Namibian Government considers sustainable downstream diamond beneficiation activity as crucial to achieving the national development objectives and goals as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP 4 -5),” he said.

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