28 Mar 2014 11:30am
WINDHOEK, 28 MAR (NAMPA) Israel's Lev Leviev Group of Companies (LGC) is also waiting in line to mine phosphate off Namibia's coast, despite Governments decision to put a three-year freeze on new environmental permits.
International news reports indicate that during the CRU (first known as the Commodities Research Unit) Phosphates 2014 conference which took place from 23 to 25 March 2014 in Paris, France, LGC vice-president for Business, Development and Operations Erez Mishal said the LGC plans to launch a demonstration processing plant in Lüderitz in 2018 to start mining fertiliser material phosphate off the Namibian coast.
LGC hopes a demonstration processing plant it plans to launch this year at the port of Lüderitz will address these concerns, and allow full-scale construction work to proceed so that production can start in 2017 or 2018. This will help us to obtain the licence, he was quoted in the Reuters article.
However, the Namibian Cabinet approved a recommendation in September 2013 that a moratorium on the issuance of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clearance certificates on bulk seabed-mining for industrial minerals as well as base and rare metals in Namibian waters be in place for a minimum of three years.
Government took note of marine scientists and international experts opinion who expressed concern that the dredging of three metres of the sea floor will cause destruction to the basic building blocks of the marine ecosystem (benthos layer).
Scientists are concerned about the release of hazardous substances, including radioactive materials, which may directly or indirectly harm and kill marine life, thereby suffocating or retarding many commercial fish stocks from being marketable due to poor quality.
According to the reports, Mishal said after a self-financed US dollars 20 million (about N.dollars 200 million) investment in the preliminary stages, it would like to find an industry partner for the full development, which would require a US dollars 800 million (about N.dollars 8 billion) investment.
LGC is touting the project, which is being developed by its subsidiary LL Namibia Phosphates as offering the lowest phosphate rock production costs in the world at a projected US dollars 16.61 a tonne (about N.dollars 167 a tonne), supported by an acid-based processing technique which reduces the need to remove impurities first from the rock.
LGC estimated that it can mine about 2 million tonnes of phosphate rock a year at a depth of up to 300 metres below the sea in a deposit it evaluates at 2 billion tonnes.
Exclusive Prospecting Licences (EPLs) and mining licences for industrial minerals have been issued for areas in the marine waters off the Namibian coast, with many of these targeting phosphates.
In the last year, there has been exploratory and mining interest for phosphates in several of these blocks.
No active mining of any of the blocks has yet begun because no environmental clearances have yet been approved.