Namibia invites India to explore cooperation in uranium mining

Windhoek: With India keen to expand its supply chain of uranium for civil nuclear purposes, the issue figured prominently during talks between visiting President Pranab Mukherjee and his Namibian counterpart Hage Geingob here on Thursday.

Addressing the media after bilateral engagements, Secretary Economic Relations in Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Amar Sinha said Namibia is committed to honour the deal signed with India in 2009 to supply Uranium for civil use.

He further said a high level expert team from India will visit Namibia to explore possibilities of mining Uranium in the country.

Namibia is the fourth largest supplier of Uranium and both the countries signed an agreement on nuclear energy in 2009.

Namibia invited India to mine uranium from here and reiterated its commitment to honour the deal for supply of the mineral inked in 2009.

The deal, however, could not move forward all those years as Namibia has to take concurrence of African Union and get the deal ratified from its parliament.

Namibia is the fourth largest producer of uranium and assured India on Thursday during delegation level talks that it study the framework New Delhi has signed with 12 other countries including UK, US, Australia, Sri Lanka, France and South Korea besides others.

Officials accompanying the Indian President on three-day visit informed Namibia about its efforts to gain membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). India also said even though it is not a member of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but it has inked the deal for procuring uranium from these countries. Namibia was also informed that there was no hindrance in buying uranium even if India is not a signatory to NPT.

As a follow-up to the issue getting discussed at the highest political level now, an Indian team comprising Department of Atomic Energy and industry will visit Namibia soon to carry forward Namibia’s offer to mine uranium from here.

The Namibian president assured President Mukherjee that he will study the agreements India inked with other countries and reiterated his country’s willingness to honour the deal signed in 2009.

Besides this critical mineral needed for India’s nuclear plants to meet growing energy demand, the two countries also discussed ways to further enhance co-operation in the mining and exploration of other minerals including zinc and marble.

India and Namibia also discussed mining of diamonds as the African country has one of largest reserves of diamonds. As per the existing laws here, a mine has to own site and then can indulge in trade and India wants direct mining from Namibia. Now, this precious item is routed through London and Antwerp.

Both the leaders stressed the need for moving ahead in time-tested ties and step up economy and trade to remove poverty. President Mukherjee offered all assistance in these efforts and capacity building for sustainable development. He also offered co-operation in the field of defence.

The two countries signed an agreement in this regard for Indian Army engineers training their Namibian counterparts here in signals and communication. India will also supply communication equipment. New Delhi has already supplied four helicopters to Namibia some year back.

An agreement for enhancing co-operation in the field of information technology was also inked and India will set up a centre of excellence here. Already, India has trained more than 1,000 IT professionals from Namibia.

The issue of India’s bid for a seat in the UN Security Council(UNSC) also came up during the talks and Namibia assured of its support for New Delhi’s candidature. The Indian President also backed Namibia’s candidature for a temporary seat in UNSC and said there was no representation from 54 countries of Africa in this body. It was not keeping in with the global reality, he said.

Facing drought, Namibian sought India’s help and it will supply 1,000 tonnes rice and 100 tons of medicine besides 20,000 dollars grant for Indira Gandhi maternity centre here, officials said after the talks. India also extended a Line of Credit worth over 100 million dollars for various developmental projects besides enhancing scholarships in IT sector for Namibian candidates to 200.

The visiting President also noted that two mining institutes set up with up Indian help were now functioning in the University of Namibia.

Later in the day, he addressed Namibian parliament and “said we see in Namibia a valuable partner in India’s quest for progress and prosperity as we pursue our identical priorities. We are therefore united not only by shared past but at this moment by our common aspirations.” (ANI)