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13 Nov 2023

Tileni Monghudhi, The Namibian

Namibia: Chinese lithium mining firm accused of several transgressions of the law; incl... Co comments

‘Govt accuses Xinfeng of illegal drilling on resettlement farms’ 5 November 2023

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has directed deputy executive director Elijah Ngurare to stop controversial Chinese company Xinfeng Investment from drilling boreholes and sourcing water from state-owned resettlement farms. The directive was issued after Xinfeng, a Chinese lithium mining company, was accused of drilling three boreholes without the necessary government approval, to supply its Uis mining operations, without seeking the relevant government approval or permission. The company also started mining activities on a resettlement mine at Omaruru, while it was only granted permission to conduct exploration activities.

Xinfeng has, however, denied any wrongdoing and insisted that all its activities were above board. Executive director of agriculture, water and land reform Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata wrote an internal memo on 5 October, in which she orders Ngurare to reign Xinfeng in and put an immediate stop to its unlawful sourcing of water. “The department of water affairs is hereby requested as a matter of extreme urgency to take possible action against Xinfeng Investment, as this has a detrimental effect on the resettled farmers leasing the subject farm,” Nghituwamata said in the memo…The company’s management said it received permission from the ministry on 19 April 2022 to drill three boreholes for domestic purposes. “A meeting was held on 23 October with senior officials from the respective ministry, as well as our company’s management, where it was made clear that they indeed issued us an approval, and that no unauthorised drilling was taking place,” reads a statement the company issued yesterday.

…Some suspicions have also been brought to The Namibian’s attention that Xinfeng may be using permits from its other mining operations to transport ore from farm Kohero. The company appears not to have permits to transport ore from farm Kohero. Xinfeng faced scrutiny over its business dealings in Namibia, including concerns over raw material exports, business practices, and political connections. Mines minister Tom Alweendo this week said he is not aware of the latest case involving the unlawful sourcing of water, and that the agriculture ministry is the responsible ministry to deal with the matter…Last year The Namibian also reported that Xinfeng started mining on farm Kohero, while their mining licence was yet to be approved, and they did not obtain an environmental clearance certificate from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism as required by law.