27 Oct 2016 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 27 OCT (NAMPA) The Environmental Commissioner (EC) did not follow the right procedures to issue an Environmental Clearance Certificate for marine phosphate mining, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau has said.
Esau raised the concerns about the clearance issued by the EC, Teofilus Nghitila in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism last month to Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) when he addressed members of parliament in the National Assembly on Thursday.
NMP wants to mine marine phosphate 120 kilometres southwest of Walvis Bay in the Atlantic Ocean and make fertilisers.
An environmental clearance certificate has already been issued for the marine phosphate mining to commence any time now. This has been done despite the fact that the process as established by Cabinet, including conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), has not been allowed to run its course; there are no credible scientific results backed by sound methodologies to justify issuance of an environmental clearance certificate; and there are no pre-established controls on how this mining is to be carried out to minimise aquatic ecosystem damage.
Esau said it is worth noting that the clearance certificate indicates that the mining company will establish its own controls, an approach which is unacceptable from an official control point of view.
Another concern is that the review, including public hearings on the data submitted for the EIA, as provided for in Section 36 of the Environmental Management Act (2007), has not been carried out and the opinion of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, as the competent authority on this matter, has not been considered.
Even though this type of mining is not practised in any country, the fisheries ministry is not opposed to marine phosphate mining, he said.
Rather, the fisheries ministry has asked for time to carry out the SEA to determine the kind of controls that can be exercised during such mining to ensure that there is no significant damage to Namibias aquatic ecosystem and fisheries.
The fisheries ministry is keen to work with all line ministries to ensure that we encourage economic development such as phosphate mining, without sacrificing our existing economies such as fisheries, which is worth about N.dollars 10 billion in forex earnings, and provides employment to thousands of our citizens.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta last week defended the issuing of the clearance but also said he may appoint a panel of independent experts to review the process under which the marine phosphate clearance certificate was issued.
NMP is a joint venture company between Australian mining house UCL Resources Limited, Oman based Mawarid Mining LLC, and Namibian company Havana Investments Limited.
The board of directors are Knowledge Katti, Tariq Al Barwani, and Sushil Srivastava.