Mineral-Rich Otavi Mountains Attract Big Miners

SOME of the world’s renowned mining companies are scrambling for a share of copper, zinc, lead and vanadium in the Otavi area.
In recent weeks, one of the world’s top five zinc producers, Nexa Resources of Brazil, said it was targeting high-grade copper deposits in the Otavi Mountain Land.
The Canadian company, Cazaly Resources Limited, also announced on Monday that it had partnered with previously disadvantaged Namibians for its new application for the Abenab North project in the Otavi mountains.
Another company is Golden Deeps from Australia, exploring and developing copper and vanadium in the Otavi Mountain Land.
Golden Deeps owns the Nosib Block prospect 20 kilometres to the south-west of Abenab, where there is a shallow, high-grade, vanadium-copper-lead-silver zone. In addition, Golden Deeps owns the Khusib Springs Mine.
The Otavi Mountain Land (also known as the Otavi Triangle), the Zambian Copper Belt, and the Kalahari Copper Belt belong to the mineral-rich Damaran Mobile Belt.
The Damaran Mobile Belt starts from the Atlantic coast and cuts across central Namibia through northern Botswana into Zambia and then the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Frank Melcher, the chairperson of Geology and Economic Geology at the Austrian Montanuniversität Leoben University, says there could be as many as 600 occurrences of copper, lead carbonate, zinc and vanadium on the Otavi Mountain Land.
Melcher groups the minerals into four categories – Berg Aukas, comprising zinc and lead; the Tsumeb-type with lead, copper and zinc; and the Abenab-type with vanadium deposits.
The fourth category is the Tschudi-type, which has low-grade copper ore in sandstone.
Nexa Resources has two projects within the Otavi Mountain Land – the Otavi Project and the Namibia North.
Nexa Resources’ senior vice president in charge of exploration and business development Jones Belther recently said his company had made significant progress in drilling at the two projects.
The projects, which measure 172,5 square kilometres, are under two exclusive prospecting licences, 3540 and 3542.
The Australian company, Sabre, owned 80% in 3540 and 70% in 3542 before selling them off in February 2021.
Belther said the drilling programme that started in July has seen Nexa drilling 1 080 metres within six holes totalling 2 216m, while another 1 450m is planned during the fourth quarter.
Cazaly Resources managing director Tara French says should the application be successful, the project presents a fantastic opportunity for his company to add value to their portfolio with potential base metal mineralisation and rare early elements mineralised carbonatites.
“To date, our investigations indicate that previous work focussed more on the Abenab Vanadium Mine located to the south. No further exploration was completed on the carbonatites within the licence application area. I look forward to updating the market with the progress of this application,” French said.
Disadvantaged Namibians hold 5%, while Cazaly Resources’ local subsidiary, Philco One Hundred and Seventy-Three, has 95%.
Cazaly Resources announced on Monday that it had applied for exclusive prospecting licence 9110 to explore base metals used in construction and manufacturing.
The company also wants to explore rare earth elements for making computer memory components, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cellphones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting, and glass, among other things.
In an announcement on 22 October this year, Golden Deeps said it was focusing on exploring and developing high-grade vanadium-zinc-lead at Abenab Project, where the mineral resource estimate is 2.80Mt.
The company also said it was interested in the high-grade vanadium, copper, lead and silver at the Nosib Block as well as the Khusib Springs’ high-grade copper-silver deposit.
Namibia’s mining industry which is largely export-driven and dependent on international mineral resources prices, has seen growth, analysts and mining experts have noted.
The outlook remains on the upside, especially with the recovery of uranium prices, new gold discoveries, as well as pending mining investment projects in the country.
The country’s national database by the mining directorate registers a total of 83 mineral producers in the country.
A large number (27%) of this total belongs to industrial minerals (cement, salt, fluospar, phosphate) producers, and their operations are often small to medium in scale.
Semi-precious stones (gemstones) are next in numbers (about 21 out of 83 producers – 25%).
The dimension stones industry exports large slabs of granite and marble, which are inputs into the construction industry, and records indicate 14 out of 83, or rather 17% minerals producers belong to this industry.
The industry for base metals and rare earth elements represents 14% of the domestic mining industry.
Major mining companies already have operations in Namibia – reputable names such as Paladin, Rössing, B2Gold Inc, QKR, De Beers, Vedanta, Trevali and Orano dominate the active miners market.
Antler Gold, Bannerman, Elevate Uranium, Reptile Uranium, Osino Gold and Namibia Crical Metals dominate the exploration space.
Officials from the ministry of mines have indicated that most of the new investors submitting licence applications are seeking for uranium, gold, cobalt, lithium and are mainly from Canada, Australia and China.