Author Topic: Namibia : Phosphate mining banned  (Read 1979 times)

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Offline mayya

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Namibia : Phosphate mining banned
« on: September 22, 2013, 21:53:49 PM »

NEWS - NAMIBIA | 2013-09-19

Bernard Esau

Phosphate mining banned

Chamwe Kaira
THE government has placed a moratorium on planned marine phosphate mining off the country’s coastal waters for the next 18 months until an environmental impact study has shown that mining will not destroy the fishing industry. No other country in the world conducts marine phosphate mining.
The decision will, at least for the time-being, defuse growing tension between the fishing industry and environmentalists on one side and mining companies that claimed they would invest a lot of money to create jobs and exports.

“We (cabinet) decided to place a moratorium on Tuesday” Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau said in an interview yesterday. The fishing industry, which is the second or third biggest foreign currency earner for Namibia, has strongly opposed the idea of phosphate mining on fishing grounds. Namibian Marine Phosphate and LL Namibia Phosphates are the two companies that have been granted mining licences for marine phosphate mining.

Esau said although the companies were granted mining licences by the Ministry of Mines and Energy they do not have environmental clearance licences, meaning that they cannot go ahead with operations. Esau said cabinet accepted a submission he entered that a moratorium be placed until an Environmental Impact Study and a Scoping Report have been prepared to determine whether mining will not destroy fishing resources.

“Phosphate mining in the ocean has never been done anywhere in the world. It’s a greenfield (never done before) project and we have no information on the subject,” Esau said.

On the possibility of law suits from the companies that have already been granted mining licences, Esau said the government has strong legal grounds, since environmental clearance has not been given. “We will battle them, they will lose,” he said. Esau said the Environmental Impact Study will start next month.

“They are planning to mine on fish breeding grounds; this may affect the recovery of fish stocks,” he said.

Barnabas Uugwanga, CEO Operations, Namibian Marine Phosphate said he was not aware of the moratorium. The company says on its website that it is currently developing the world’s first marine phosphate project of the south of Walvis Bay to establish Namibia as a premier rock phosphate producer, contributing to the Namibian economy and supporting ongoing crop production through the provision of phosphorus for fertiliser.

Kombadayedu Kapwanga from LL Namibia Phosphates, which is planning to develop a phosphate mine near Lüderitz, also expressed ignorance about the moratorium but said he did not think such a move would affect his company’s plans since it already had a mining licence.

In an interview published in the September edition of the Namibia Business Journal, a publication of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Uugwanga said his company has been awaiting an environment licence from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for it to be able to proceed with its Sandpiper Project.

He claimed in the interview with the Journal that Namibian Marine Phosphate has so far invested about N$150 million in the Sandpiper Project. He claimed that since the company said once it obtains its environmental permit, it will invest N$3, 2 billion into the development of Phase One of the Sandpiper project.

He said the Sandpiper Project continues to receive resistance from some Namibian environmentalists and the fishing industry who fear that it may impact negatively on the marine environment, and in particular the fishing industry. He said his company believes that the resistance that the Sandpiper Project has been facing could be due to limited knowledge about recovering sand at the seafloor due to its richness in phosphate.

The cabinet last year supported the setting up of the multi-billion phosphate mining projects and allocated land for it.