23 May 2014 18:18pm
WINDHOEK, 22 MAY (NAMPA) The Chamber of Mines of Namibia is strongly supporting Governments decision to conduct environmental studies before allowing marine phosphate mining in Namibian waters.
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 was put in place for a minimum of three years. Cabinet made this decision during its 13th Ordinary meeting in September 2013.
President of the Chamber of Mines, Werner Duvenhage said during the chambers annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday the move is just to protect the environment, and amicably setting the issue in dispute between the fishing and phosphate mining industries.
The chamber welcomes the confirmation by the Ministers of Mines and Energy; Fisheries and Marine Resources; as well as Environment and Tourism that exploration is not affected by the moratorium. We therefore urge all stakeholders in the industry not to undermine the continuation of exploration and research during this period, he stressed.
The chamber fully supports the notion of co-existence of all industries operating in the marine space.
Duvenhage boasted that Namibia is already an acknowledged leader in marine mining and environmental management, being the only country in the world where marine diamonds are being mined successfully by the worlds most advanced marine mining fleet, Debmarine Namibia.
This co-existence between fishing and mining has already been successfully maintained for decades with great economic benefits to Namibia. In 2013, more than 68 per cent of Namibias total diamond production was recovered from the sea by Debmarine Namibia, he added.
The moratorium has halted exploration activities for two companies - Namibia Marine Phosphates Sandpiper Project south-west of the coast from Walvis Bay and Lev Leviev Namibia Phosphates (LLNP) in Lüderitz.
Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernhard Esau told Parliament last month that his ministry remains resolute in its commitment to ensure that proper scientific investigations are carried out, which will allow the government to make an informed decision about the future of marine phosphate mining.
Namibia has approached Norway for advice on phosphate mining on the seabed, with a major project slated for the year 2015.
The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF) and Institute of Marine Research (IMR) will study the impact of marine phosphate mining on the ocean environment.
This is specifically in the context of Namibias fishing grounds within the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem.
The meeting ends Thursday.