Multinational metals and mining giant, Rio Tinto has begun exploring for copper deposits in northern Namibia, as it seeks to diversify its product portfolio.

Rio Tinto in a statement said it is currently conducting public consultations with all parties that will be affected by the exploration.

“Mitigation measures will be recommended for the negative impacts while positive impacts will be enhanced,” stated the company.

Base metal exploration

Rio said the objective of the planned exploration is to identify any base metal deposits which are viable for commercial mining. The environmental impact assessment will aim to identify sensitive environmental features that might be affected by such activities.

Other current copper exploration activities in Namibia include the Haib project handled by Copper Resources of South Africa, as well as the Honib prospect operated by Helio Resource Corp. of Canada.

Biggest GDP contributor

Mining is the biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy in terms of revenue. It accounts for 25% of the country’s income.

Its contribution to the GDP – 10.4% in 2009, 8.5% in 2010, 9.5% in 2011 – is also very important and makes it one of the largest economic sectors of the country.

The majority of revenue – 7.2% of GDP in 2011 – comes from diamond mining.

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