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Mining and Industry  

Mining and industrial activities have a relatively small demand on water resources in each basin country according to World Development Indicators (World Bank 2010). Mining accounts for approximately 5 % (16 million m³ in 2008) of water demand  in Namibia (IWRM Plan Joint Venture Namibia), 7.5 million m³ of which are being taken from surface water resources. Angola has a demand of 60 million m³ per year (17 % of national water demand) on a country-wide basis.

While mining has the larger demand for water than the remaining industries, it also has an environmental impact on water resources. Commodities mined in the Kunene River basin include predominantly iron, salt, marble, granite and sodalite. Kimberlite pipes containing diamonds are found in clusters around Huambo in the northern part of the basin but require considerable investments before exploitation. A visual overview of mines in the basin is shown in the map below.


Namibia’s economy is greatly dependent on the extraction and processing of minerals for export. In 2007 the mining sector generated 12.4 % of the Namibian GDP. Rich alluvial diamond deposits make Namibia a primary source for gem-quality diamonds. Namibia has become the fourth-largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world's fifth-largest producer of uranium. Further is produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. The mining sector employs about 3% of the population.

The mining industry is presently not a significant water user. One reason for this is that the diamond mining has moved increasingly to offshore mining sites, resulting in extensive use of sea water rather than freshwater in the production process. Mines such as the Rössing Uranium Mine have also made considerable steps in water demand management and the re-use of process water (IWRM Plan Joint Venture Namibia 2010).

The water demand for mining activities in the Kunene water basin in Namibia (including the catchment areas of the Kunene, Khumib, Hoarusib and Hoanib rivers) has been estimated at a mere 3 200 m³ in 2008 of which about 2 700 m³ are supplied from groundwater resources.

The distribution of mines across the Kunene River basin.
Source: AHT GROUP 2010
( click to enlarge )

Mining in the Kunene Region of Namibia

The Kunene Region is generally rich in mineralised rock formations. Some mining takes place on a small scale, but as yet no large-scale operations seem to exist in the area. Some small-scale extraction, value adding and marketing of crystals rocks for the local tourism market takes place. An exploration licence has been granted to an oil and gas exploration and development company to investigate the possibilities for commercial oil. In addition, there is the possibility of salt extraction as well as on- and off-shore diamond mining along the region's coastline. A large number of concessions and claims for small-scale mining are registered, but many remain unexplored. [...]

Source: DLIST Benguela




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