The Chamber of Mines of Namibia (CoM) was formed in 1969, with the sole mandate to protect the interests of its members while promoting sustainable growth of mining and exploration so as to maximise economic gain for the Namibian nation.
The not for profit organisation functions as an advocacy body, in which it acts as a voice for the industry to government and other institutions. Through its influence and deliberation on policies affecting the sector, the Chamber works towards sustaining and maintaining a regulatory environment which attracts investment and promotes the growth of the Namibian mining industry.
Furthermore, the CoM is a self-regulating body which is governed by a prudent Code of Conduct and Ethics that gives the organisation the right to expel members who are non-compliant. Within the Chamber structure, various committees have been formed to deliberate on areas of importance such as safety, human resources and environmental issues.
History of the Chamber of Mines
The inaugural meeting of some nineteen mining and exploration companies took place at the Grand Hotel in Windhoek on Friday, 9th May 1969. As a result of that meeting, a Constitution and Rules for the Association of Mining Companies of South West Africa was formulated and, after a secret ballot, representatives of six companies were elected to the Council of the Association.
The inaugural President, later elected Honorary Life Member, was the late Jim Ratledge of Tsumeb Corporation with Des Mathews (also an Honorary Life Member) being both Secretary and Honorary Treasurer. Subsequently, two other individuals were recognized as Honorary Life Members, John Berning, Past President, and the late Honorable Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, the first Minister of Mines and Energy in independent Namibia. Of the nineteen companies that attended the meeting, only four were active.
The first full-time Secretary to the Association, a noted name in mining circles, Mr Bill Bailie, was appointed in February 1979.
At a special meeting of the Association in March, 1979, a revised Constitution was adopted which, inter alia, transformed the Association into The Chamber of Mines of South West Africa/Namibia. The final transformation was effected at a Council meeting in January 1990, when the Name was changed to the present title, The Chamber of Mines of Namibia.
The Chamber of Mines of Namibia adheres to the original purposes of its formation being, those of promoting, encouraging, protecting and fostering the mining industry of Namibia.The Chamber thus acts as a forum for discussion of matters of mutual interest between members, the collation and dissemination of mining-related information, and liaison between various Ministries of the Government of Namibia and the individual Chamber members. Of particular importance is the Chamber's role in advising relevant Government Ministries as to pertinent legislation affecting the mining industry.
Currently the Chamber has some 117 members, ranging from the major mining houses through to smaller individual mining operations, plus a category for exploration and prospecting companies and an associate membership class.
In addition to the Council of the Chamber, which acts as its Board of Directors, the Chamber has identified a number of fields of special interest and has, accordingly, formed Committees to deal with relevant issues. The mining industry recognises the importance of its employees and their safety and thus operates both a Labour Committee and Safety Committee.
Members of the Safety Committee, including the Mines' Inspectorate and a representative of the MUN, have been intimately involved in drafting the new Mine Health and Safety Regulations which will replace the outdated Minerals Ordinance of 1968. Through the Safety Committee the Chamber runs its own Inter-Mine Safety Competition, supplementing the programmes of the National Occupational Safety Association (NOSA).
The importance the mining industry attaches to the development and maintenance of sound labour relations is evidenced by the signature of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Chamber and the MUN for the establishment of the Mining Cooperation Council. The objectives of this Council, which are supported by the Ministries of Labour and Mines and Energy, are to promote a sound labour relations culture within the mining industry, support sensible investment opportunities and project development, and increase public awareness as to the needs and benefits of the Namibian mining industry.
Training and development of personnel forms an integral part of labour relations and the Labour Committee devotes considerable attention to this aspect of operations. Virtually all operations run a variety of training programmes for personnel whilst a number of companies and the Chamber support the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology, based at Arandis. Over a period of time the Chamber sub-committee of Mine Surveyors has addressed the problem of qualified Namibian surveyors and has developed a very successful certification programme for this purpose.
Prospecting and exploration for new mining projects are essential activities to ensure the future sustainability of the mining industry. Over the last decade exploration companies have spent considerable time and money in assessing a number of potential sites within the country. The Prospecting Committee of the Chamber provides exploration companies with a forum to discuss technological and legislative developments and problems between themselves and with officials from the Office of the Mining Commissioner and Geological Survey.
Concern for the environment has a high priority within the mining industry with the result that protection measures, in the form of environmental impact assessments and management plans, are provided in the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act of 1992. Accordingly, the Chamber established an Environment Committee to formulate mining industry positions on environmental issues and to develop sensible policies and strategies. The Committee has discussed pending environmental legislation and has made comments and recommendations accordingly.
During the last two years the Chamber has actively contributed to an objective assessment of the mining industry and its activities and future role regarding sustainable development. This massive exercise was carried out on a worldwide basis at the behest of a number of private sector mining houses, known as the "Global Mining Initiative". The resultant report, entitled "Mining, Metals and Sustainable Development" was presented at an international minerals conference "Resourcing the Future" in Toronto in May 2002. The International Council on Mining and Metals, representing the global minerals industry was able to utilize the recommendations (embracing self-regulation) of this report to successfully pre-empt negative perceptions at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg.
In addition to employee safety at the workplace, the mining industry is acutely aware of the adverse effects of occupational diseases, in particular the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Chamber has built upon the prevention project initiated by Namdeb to establish a mining industry Occupational Health Education and Awareness Programme (OHEAP). The programme, supported by one of the Chamber companies, Okorusu Fluorspar, concentrates on "peer educator" pressure through various training and counselling programmes and is proving to have a beneficial effect on participating companies and their immediate communities.
Whilst the Chamber's activities are of necessity concentrated within Namibia, the Namibian mining industry is aware of moves towards regional development. Accordingly, the Chamber became a founder member of the SADC Chambers of Mines initiative for regional discussion of common interest issues. The organisation, known as the Mining Industry Associations of Southern Africa (MIASA), currently has eight individual Chamber members from SADC member states and has been recognised by the Council of Mining Ministers as the representative of the private sector mining industry. MIASA is now developing its case for similar recognition to the African Mining Partnership, established in February, 2003 by some fifteen Mining Ministers prior to the Investing in the Africa Mining Indaba. The Chamber, through its MIASA membership, is also a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals.
To be acknowledged as the champion of the exploration and mining industry in Namibia.
Vision for the Mining Industry:
Vision for the Namibian Mining Industry is to be widely respected as a safe, environmentally responsible, globally competitive and meaningful contributor to the long term prosperity of Namibia.
To effectively promote, encourage, protect, foster and contribute to the growth of responsible exploration and mining in Namibia to the benefit of the country and all stakeholders.