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Namibia is richly blessed with marble

Namibia is richly blessed with marble

Think marble, and Karibib naturally comes to mind. Hills sliced open to reveal huge tracts of white – on closer inspection, one can only marvel at the perfection that has been hidden underground from time immemorial.

Some marble is more sought-after than others, depending on its ancient makeup. In Namibia marble is extracted mainly in the Karibib area with other quarries near Swakopmund and Aus. The Karibib stone is a dolomite marble.

Calcium carbonate is a component, as are manganese, magnesium and iron. Depending on the level of these elements, the hardness and whiteness of the marble is determined. A beautiful range of all colours can be found on the market.

Marble is mostly used by sculptors and as a building material. Locally, the Bank of Namibia, Christuskirche and Heroes’ Acre all contain Karibib’s marble. The Frankfurt International Airport and the Parliament Buildings in Budapest, amongst others, also boast Namibian marble.

Travellers to and from the coast know the Marmorwerke in Karibib. It was founded in 1903 by the Deutsch Afrikanische Marmorgesellschaft who mined two quarries which were linked to Karibib by railway line. International fame followed, with exports to Germany, Italy, China, Japan, South Africa, Spain and Argentina.

Fast forward to 1982-2013 when a local stonemason of German descent, Franz Wittreich (Sr), operated the Marmorwerke. Today the Wittreich family continues marble mining under the name Namagra, with the Rhino as their distinctive logo. They produce blocks, aggregates and marble dust.

The whiter and brighter the marble, the more sought-after it is. Namagra’s marble dust has a whiteness component of over 88%. The hardness of their dust is also the reason why White Rhino Marble dust is the preferred filler in concrete, paving stones and tiles.

Two years ago, the Karibib Marmorwerke came into the possession of Mingjie Stone Namibia Pty Ltd. This Chinese company owns seven local quarries which supply eight types of marble. Namibia earns some 30 to 50 million NAD per year from their operation and, says the country director Ben Xu, “we are expecting to mine for about 30 years. We are also carrying out exploration activities to expand our operations.”

Dimension stone (referring to quarried rocks) is a valuable natural resource and Namibia has numerous deposits of attractive colours, patterns and textures. Marble, granite, dolerite, conglomerate, and sodalite are mined and processed by various local and international firms.

Exotic names draw buyers into the beauty of the marble, such as African Statuario, Bianco Rhino, Misty White, Savanna Princess, Namib Fantasy, Platinum Blue, Aus White, Sky Blue, Mystery White Namibia, Rainbow Rhino, Okatji Rose Marble, Namib Jade Marble, Namibian Harlequin Marble, Desert Green Marble and Copra Black Marble.

Pick one at your leisure.

Christine Stoman

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