• Namibia bans export of critical minerals
  • Move to maximize benefits of clean energy
  • Zimbabwe also banned lithium ore exports

Harare-Namibia has followed Zimbabwe's path by banning the export of unprocessed critical minerals, including crushed lithium ore, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and rare-earth metals and elements. The move comes as the country seeks to maximize the benefits of the growing global demand for metals used in clean energy technologies. Namibia has large deposits of lithium and rare earth minerals, which are vital for renewable energy. The country plans to play a major role in the renewable energy sector, and its rare-earth metals are attracting growing interest as the world shifts away from polluting fuels.

Last year, Namibia signed an agreement to supply rare-earth minerals to the European Union under the bloc’s plan to reduce its reliance on China for critical minerals. However, with the controversy surrounding Chinese company Xinfeng Investments involved in lithium exploration in the Erongo region and its new license acquisition process, the Namibian government may have been influenced to take action. The Cabinet decision to ban unprocessed critical minerals may have been a response to reports that some unscrupulous companies have been shipping large quantities of minerals out of the country under the pretext of sending samples for testing abroad, resulting in lost revenue from taxes and royalties.

Similar to Zimbabwe, Namibia's decision may spur the country's lithium miners to work towards producing battery-grade lithium locally and reduce the export of lithium concentrate.

The global outlook for critical minerals is promising, with the demand for these minerals projected to grow quickly as clean energy transitions gather pace. Clean energy technologies, such as wind turbines, rely on permanent magnets built from rare earth elements, among others. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that renewable energy requires far greater amounts of critical minerals compared to traditional fossil fuel sources. For example, solar photovoltaics require seven tonnes per megawatt capacity while offshore wind requires approximately 16 tonnes per megawatt capacity, whereas natural gas requires only one tonne per megawatt capacity.

Namibia's decision to ban the export of unprocessed critical minerals and Zimbabwe's ban on lithium ore exports are steps towards maximizing the benefits of critical minerals for their respective countries, reducing their reliance on other countries, and fostering local processing and manufacturing capabilities. With the global shift towards renewable energy, the demand for critical minerals will continue to rise, and countries with significant deposits of these minerals will have an opportunity to capitalize on this trend. Namibia's decision is a positive step towards making the most of their natural resources and contributing to a greener future.

Equity Axis News