Return to the golden era

Mining back with a bang
Several announcements by international players in the first month of 2023 suggest a robust year for the mining sector in Namibia.
Jo-Maré Duddy
The construction of a new gold mine, yet another oil discovery, an expected positive investment decision on a new uranium project, the completion of a definitive feasibility study on another uranium project, and a copper exploration expansion – these are a few of the international news headlines that put Namibia on the world’s mining radar in January.
An aggressive hydrogen agenda, plus an international report that names the country as one of the five exploration frontiers that are set to steal the show in 2023, also secured Namibia’s role on the world’s mining stage.
Namibia, along with Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Chad, is "the place to be" for investors in the African oil and gas sector, according to Grace Goodrich, a publications editor at Energy Capital & Power.
She is quoted by Rigzone, a leading online resource for news in the oil and gas industry, in its report, "African Upstream Revival and 26 Drilling Campaigns Set for 2023".
Another online news site, Oil Price, says, buoyed by the likes of TotalEnergies’ Venus oil discovery offshore Namibia last year, "exploration activities are poised to bring new surprises in 2023". The website identifies Namibia as one of the top five exploration prospects that are "most likely to shake up the market".
Shell recently announced that early signs from its Jonker-1 wildcat exploration probe "are promising", Upstream Online recently reported. The website headlined the report, saying "Shell hits hydrocarbons in the world’s hottest new hunting ground".
Online news site EnergyVoice recently quoted Namibia’s petroleum commissioner, Maggy Shino, as saying: "I’m not saying anything apart from to say it is going well, it is going very well."
Speaking at an Africa Energy Chamber (AEC) event in London, Shino also confirmed that appraisal work on Shell’s Graff and TotalEnergies’ Venus discoveries has started.
Online news site Oil Now also picked up on the story, reporting that Jonker-1 is in the Orange Basin offshore Namibia, which the website described as the country’s "rising oil star".
Speaking in London, Shino said the Orange Basin is not the only opportunity in Namibia.
"The whole of offshore Namibia is ready. In terms of deepwater potential, the Lüderitz Basin is calling for you, the Walvis Basin, the Namib Basin, and onshore, in the Owambo Basin and the Karoo have shown their potential. All of these have possibilities," she said.
Including Namibia in the top five exploration prospects in 2023, Oil Price highlighted the Aurora offshore project. According to its website, Maurel & Prom, French firm specialising in African upstream operations, might be opening up another frontier in Namibia this year, spudding the Aurora wildcat 190 km from Walvis Bay.
"Despite the differences, geologically Aurora should be similar to Venus, considering it is located in the license block just above TotalEnergies’ 2913B block, so in case the exploration well does hit commercial volumes of oil, it is going to be big," Oil Price said.
Canadian-listed Osino Resources has received an environmental clearance from the government, reconfirming its target to start construction on the Twin Hills gold mine near Karibib in the second half of this year.
The most recent technical study for Twin Hills outlines a 13-year open-pit mine life with an average annual gold production rate of 169 000 ounces per year at all-in sustaining costs of US$930 per ounce in the first ten years of operation.This is based on 2.15 million troy ounces in reserves. Osino will spend a projected N$6.5 billion to establish the Twin Hills gold mine, expected to become operational in 2025.
Earlier this month, Osino said it has it has received eight project finance offers from European, African and North American lenders with established track records in mining project finance.
Preferred lenders are currently being shortlisted as the company moves towards final term sheet negotiations and subsequent credit approval process for the selected financing package.
"We are very pleased with the competitiveness of the process and resulting quality of project financing offers received from eight reputable institutions with impressive track records of successful project financing," said Heye Daun, Osino’s co-founder, president and CEO.
Australian-based Bannerman Energy completed the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the eight million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) development of its flagship Etango Uranium Project in Namibia.
Bannerman has submitted an application for a mining license in Namibia.
"We are now progressing a range of workstreams designed to culminate in a targeted final investment decision on Etango during the second half of this calendar year," said Brandon Munro, managing director and CEO of Bannerman.
He added: "These activities are set against a backdrop in which global uranium market fundamentals continue to gain momentum."
Australian-based Deep Yellow has also completed its DFS for its Tumas Project.
It indicated Life of Mine (LOM) of 22.25 years based on existing ore reserves, with additional resources likely to increase the LOM to a 30-year operation. The initial capital cost of the project is estimated at US$372 million.
"We believe this is a very robust DFS and underscores the value of our conviction to apply effort in contrarian fashion, with a proven team, to discover the expanded Tumas Project that now demonstrates its potential to be a long-life, world-class uranium operation," said John Borshoff, the managing director and CEO of Deep Yellow.
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Tumas has been completed and will be submitted to the Namibian authorities later this month.
"We also anticipate our application for a mining license will be granted by mid-2023 once the EIA is assessed and approved by the authorities. If the outcome of these workstreams is positive, and suitable uranium market conditions prevail, we will be looking to make a final investment decision by the first half of calendar year 2024," Borshoff said.
Also speaking at an Africa Energy Chamber (AEC) event in London, Namibia’s hydrogen commissioner James Mnyupe said the country has made the development of hydrogen a priority, and has several projects in the pipeline.
The flagship project is Hyphen, which has already concluded memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for volumes exceeding one million tonnes of green ammonia per annum.
Hyphen Hydrogen Energy signed non-binding memorandums of understanding with two major industrial companies earlier this month with the goal of supplying them with up to 750 000 tonnes of green ammonia annually.
The agreements with a major chemical company and Approtium, a South Korean hydrogen producer, are targeting offtake of up to 500 000 tonnes and 250 000 tonnes a year, respectively.
The agreements follow Hyphen’s recently signed MoU with RWE Supply and Trading (RWEST), a German multinational utility company, for the supply of up to 300 000 tonnes annually of green ammonia from 2027.
"These partnerships with offtakers from various geographical regions firmly cement Namibia’s position as a key emerging player in the global green hydrogen industry," said Marco Raffinetti, CEO of Hyphen Hydrogen Energy.
Hyphen, a Namibian registered, green hydrogen development company, is targeting an annual production of one million tonnes of green ammonia by 2027. The company plans to increase annual production to two million tonnes of green ammonia by 2029 for export to international markets, in addition to its commitments to supply and decarbonise energy domestically within Namibia and the Southern Africa region.