Mining Scramble Sparks Chief's Fury

Source: New Era, Magreth Nunuhe  (6/20/11)

"Chief blasts Mines Ministry for allowing explorers to enter without his knowledge."

New Era, Magreth Nunuhe

A Khorixas chief has blasted the Ministry of Mines and Energy for allowing mining explorers to enter the area without his authority's knowledge.

Deputy Chief of the Swartbooi Traditional Authority in Fransfontein, Esegiel Uirab, was reacting to last week's report in the Namibian Sun entitled, Miners hit the rare earths jackpot, in which a Canadian company was reported to have discovered highly sought-after rare earth metals at Lofdal, near Khorixas.

The chief said, according to the Communal Land Reform Act, anyone who intends to mine in a communal area must first speak to the traditional authority of that area and get recommendations from the chief before applying to the mines ministry, voicing his disappointment to learn through the newspaper that miners were exploring the area without having consulted them.

"What’s going on here? Are we not recognized in the area?," he asked, saying he suspected that another traditional authority might've given the explorers the go-ahead while Lofdal was in his area of jurisdiction.

"I don't have evidence, but I have my suspicions," he said.

According to the Guide to the Communal Land Reform Act, 2002 (No. 5 of 2002), prospecting or mining operations may be carried out on communal land subject to the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act, 1992 (Act. No. 33 of 1992), which states that "every person who wants to carry out any prospecting or mining operations as contemplated in the Act on communal land must notify, prior to the making of any application in terms of that Act, the chief or traditional authority of the traditional community and the board, of his or her intention to apply as aforementioned."
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