Fri, 25/05/2018 - 05:30
Current Issue 71
A Vision for A New Namibia
Gecko Namibia is balancing its privately owned wholly Namibian status with a focus on internationally-lucrative joint ventures in order to become a fully-fledged mining house on the continent
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Developed as a diverse, private, proudly and locally-owned company operating across the mineral resources industry, Gecko Namibia (Pty) Ltd’s fully-integrated exploration and mining proposition is on course to realise the Group’s vision for a new Namibia.
Built up of subsidiaries focused on greenfield exploration, mining and mineral beneficiation, and general mining services including drilling, exploration, lab work, plant construction, processing and contract mining; the Windhoek-based entity’s consequent portfolio continues to make waves not just domestically, but on a continental level.
“Together with Gecko’s sister companies in South Africa, the Group comprises a workforce of more than 1,000 employees that are led by a broadly skilled team of 30-plus professionals,” introduces Managing Director, Pine van Wyk. “The Group enjoys a solid reputation for identifying and implementing projects across the industry in Namibia and Southern Africa; embracing a long-term view of establishing itself as a diversified and integrated Namibian mining company.”
Gecko currently operates a large portfolio of mineral rights within the country, virtue of a series of exploration activities enacted by its skilled team of geologists.
The resultant identification of previously unknown large-scale mineralisation opportunities in the Kunene region of Namibia – revolving namely around cobalt-copper, barite and zinc-lead discoveries – has turned the Company into a locally significant economic and social protagonist.
“Gecko is trying to utilise local opportunities effectively to develop projects in the African mining sector,” van Wyk continues. “The Group’s diversified portfolio, which includes a broad spectrum of service companies, enables us to fast-track projects cost-effectively.
“One example of Gecko’s regard for trying to grasp local business opportunities has been through the country’s ideal climatic conditions for solar salt production. Our coastline and the adjoining Namib Desert facilitates the evaporation of seawater and the production of salt by crystallisation. It was therefore only logical for Gecko to try and establish itself as a producer of high-quality Namibian salt. In doing so the Group endeavours to add value to Namibia’s mineral resources, thereby developing the country’s resource potential to full fruition.”
Numerous exploration and mining projects have been entered into as a consequence of the Group’s ability and track record of identifying and unlocking locally-relevant value.
Additionally, Gecko also owns and operated various services companies, epitomising its ongoing search for diversification, which include contract works internally but also to third parties in the wider region.
Such widespread influence can only derive from a highly skilled and knowledgeable team though, as van Wyk emphasises: “Gecko is endowed with a strong, internationally recognised management team: entrepreneurs; exploration and mine geologists; processing and mining engineers; and a strong in-house legal team.
“Initially, Gecko Namibia concentrated purely on projects in the industrial minerals sector, but because of these in-house capabilities, the Group’s portfolio has broadened to now include greenfield exploration; operating mines with downstream value addition; mining and mineral beneficiation; and the provision of services to the mining industry (drilling services, laboratories, plant construction, processing, contract mining).”
Naturally serving as a differentiator over less well-rounded competitors, Gecko has reaped the rewards of its strategy not just through its core portfolio but also by heightened interest across the market from prospective joint venture partners.
Van Wyk explains: “The Group owns two profitable mining operations and has engaged in a number of joint venture agreements in production and exploration projects, to advance its widespread critical minerals portfolio.
“One such example is Gecko’s JV with Namibia Rare Earth, now called Namibia Critical Metals; which governs the companies’ endeavours for seeking future projects in Southern Africa. The core focus of this JV is to explore battery minerals. With the rapid growth of EVs and other energy storage technologies, battery minerals have seen huge increases in demand and associated prices. We believe it is now the time to focus on what we call the ‘future metals’ that will be needed in a technologically advanced world.”
A strong position
This balance between privately-owned status and JV optimisation has and will continue to open numerous doors for Gecko Namibia on its quest for business growth; such opportunities facilitating a level of funding and portfolio enhancement that might have otherwise been difficult to achieve.
“Through its various JVs the Group is driving its cobalt-copper exploration programme in the Kunene region of Namibia. We are in JVs with Namibia Critical Metals (ex-Namibia Rare Earth Inc) and Celsius Resources on these projects, and Gecko Exploration and Gecko Drilling are providing all of the exploration services to these JVs,” van Wyk details. “Every project is important, and we’d like to see ongoing developments across the entire property suite.”
Boosting capital, human resource skills, technologies, and competitive stature, project success is all but assured for Gecko as a result of its agile, entrepreneurial and driven outlook.
The Group is fully established in the Namibian mining environment, thus offering strategic benefits to any foreign enterprise looking to join Gecko in its Namibian adventure.
“Gecko Namibia (Pty) Ltd, with a broadly mixed portfolio, is pursuing many projects in the fields of chemical production, mineral exploration, mining and production of industrial minerals; as well as upstream value-adding to some of the country’s mineral commodities,” van Wyk affirms and concludes. “The diversified portfolio, together with an internal capacity to move projects forward, rapidly puts us in a strong position to take advantage and react to changing market conditions.
“And resultantly, within the next five-10 years, Gecko aims to establish itself as a new mining house on the African continent.”