Two rigs at work in
the field at Extract’s
Husab project
Windhoek, Namibia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 11 May 2011 – Namibia’s mines minister has confirmed that a policy to grant future mining rights to a state-owned firm will not impact on existing mining and exploration licences.

The southern African nation’s government has worried investors with a recent decision to grant future rights to strategic minerals to a state company.

“The existing exploration and mining licences will not be affected,” mining minister Isak Katali said in a statement issued at a news briefing here to clarify issues around the policy.

Katali had already been quoted in the local media as saying the plan would only apply to future mineral rights and not existing ones.

Investors had sought clarification on the policy, but Namibia’s government has said little and the initial government decision in late March had not been immediately announced.

Uranium explorer Extract Resources saw its share price hammered after the initial reports that rights to uranium and other minerals would be assigned to the state-owned company, Epangelo.

But while it said it was seeking clarity, it also expressed confidence that the government’s proposed policy changes on strategic minerals would not affect its Husab uranium project licence.

“Our application for a mining licence will be decided on under the existing rules. So it’s business as usual,” Extract chairman Steve Galloway told Reuters after the briefing.

Epangelo, which will lack the capital to pursue major projects, will be able to form joint ventures with other companies, and so will be the vehicle through which future investors will have to enter the country’s mining sector.