Namibia, a southern African country renowned for its uranium, critical minerals and diamond production, has taken a significant step to capitalize on the surging global demand for minerals used in clean energy technologies. In a recent development, the Namibian government announced a ban on the export of unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals. This move aims to enable Namibia to benefit from the growing market for metals crucial to renewable energy storage and electric mobility.
“For us to economically benefit from our minerals and petroleum resources, there are two main phases that must take place. The first phase relates to finding the resources, generally referred to as the exploration phase. The second phase is the actual recovering of the resources from the ground once discovered through exploration. It is only during the second phase when we derive economic benefits from our minerals and petroleum resources; it is only during this phase when the State receives resource revenue and employment opportunities are created.”Thomas K. Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy, Republic of Namibia.
Namibia possesses substantial lithium deposits, a vital resource for energy storage in renewable technologies. Additionally, the country boasts reserves of rare earth minerals like dysprosium and terbium, which are essential for manufacturing permanent magnets used in electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines. Recognizing the strategic value of these minerals, Namibia seeks to encourage local processing and value addition by restricting their export.
Under the new regulations, only limited quantities of the specified minerals will be allowed for export, subject to approval by the Minister of Mines. This measure ensures that Namibia retains a significant portion of its mineral wealth, fostering domestic processing capabilities and attracting investment in downstream industries.
“Cabinet approved the prohibition of the export of certain critical minerals such as unprocessed crushed lithium ore, cobalt, manganese, graphite and rare earth minerals,” Namibia’s information ministry said in a statement.
Namibia’s decision to focus on its battery metals sector comes as the world increasingly shifts away from fossil fuels and looks towards sustainable energy sources. While Namibia’s uranium and diamond industries have traditionally been the mainstay of its mining sector, the country’s abundant battery metals have garnered growing attention in the global market.
In line with this trend, Namibia signed an agreement last year to supply rare earth minerals to the European Union. The agreement aligns with the EU’s objective of reducing its reliance on China for critical minerals. By diversifying its customer base and partnering with international markets, Namibia aims to position itself as a reliable supplier of these essential resources.
The ban on unprocessed mineral exports reflects Namibia’s strategic approach to mining, seeking to maximize the value of its mineral resources and leverage its position in the global clean energy transition. By prioritizing local processing and attracting foreign investment, Namibia aims to create a sustainable and competitive battery metals industry that contributes to its economic growth and environmental objectives.