21 May 2015 11:50am
WINDHOEK, 21 May (NAMPA) Mines and Energy Minister Obed Kandjoze has asked the mining industry to be patient as Government reviews and discusses the moratorium on marine phosphate mining.
Kandjoze said this during the opening of the 36th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Chamber of Mines in the capital on Tuesday.
The minister was responding to the chambers concern that the 18 months period of the Cabinet moratorium on marine phosphate mining, which was declared on 17 September 2013, lapsed in March 2015 without much progress on the desired scientific studies to address concerns by the fishing industry.
There is a committee tasked to review the moratorium and recommendations will be provided to Cabinet within the next few weeks. I urge the industry to bear with us in this regard, he said.
Cabinet placed a moratorium on marine phosphate mining exploration to carry out research before allowing the exploration of marine phosphate offshore Namibia.
Speaking at the same occasion, outgoing president of the Chamber of Mines, Werner Duvenhage said the consultants engaged by Government have produced a scoping report in which terms of references for the sea have been identified. The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (Sintef) and the Institute of Marine Research were contracted to conduct the study.
Attempts to get comment from Sintef regarding the progress of the report proved futile.
Duvenhage, who is also Managing Director of Rossing Uranium, said that while the government is committed to the co-existence of several sectors in the same eco-system, the slow pace at which the environmental concerns are being addressed is of great concern to the chamber.
It is now clear that it will be several years before environmental concerns will be clarified, thereby hampering investment decisions and socio-economic growth by marine phosphate players, he said.
Duvenhage appealed to the relevant agencies of Government to find an amicable solution to the way forward without jeopardizing the interests of any stakeholders.
A report by a local daily newspaper, The Namibian, quotes Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau saying the moratorium will remain in place until the study of how mining phosphate will impact the environment is complete and terms are agreed upon. He said that he is still waiting for the report.