Nearly 6 000 young Namibians sign petitions against marine phosphate mining

27 Sep 2018 19:00pm
WINDHOEK, 27 SEP (NAMPA) – Nearly 6 000 young Namibians have signed petitions against marine phosphate mining.
The 5 919 young people from all corners of Namibia signed three petitions that were handed over to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) on Thursday.
An environmental clearance certificate which was initially awarded to Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) to carry out marine phosphate mining off the Namibian coast, was set aside by Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta in June this year to allow for further consultation on the matter following a public outcry.
The ministry has since called for written submissions on input on the matter from the public.
Reading one of the appeals, Speaker of the Children’s Parliament, Rosalia Hauwanga said the Namibian Constitution protects the environment and its wildlife for current and future generations and therefore, the ministry should permanently revoke the licence.
“We are troubled about the plight of the fish in the ocean and all species that rely on it because scientists globally worry that the project will be ecologically unsafe and harmful, with potentially devastating effects on the fishing industry,” she said. Reading another appeal by learners, teacher Tuyooleni Shapaka said NMP is 85 per cent foreign owned, adding that marine phosphate mining holds major and irreversible health, environment, ecological, economic and labour risks for Namibia.
The third appeal, from the Economic and Social Justice Trust, indicated that during the South African Development Community (SADC) People’s Summit held on 16 and 17 August this year, 400 delegates debated the matter and agreed that such a venture would pose a huge ecological and economic risk and should not be allowed.
The delegates signed petitions to the MET to withdraw the environmental clearance certificate.
The trust has previously said the Benguela ecosystem is a fragile, though highly productive, large marine ecosystem, which forms the base of the food web of the entire marine ecosystem.
It said marine phosphate mining would involve large scale destruction of the top layer of the seabed, and such disturbances of the seabed will present a severe threat to the ecosystem as a whole and all living mechanisms that it supports.
The appeals were received by the ministry’s Acting Permanent Secretary, Louisa Putami.
“The ministry welcomes comments from the public and we are currently reviewing all received petitions, including these ones,” she said.
She noted that so far, less than 20 written submissions were received. The deadline for submission is 29 September 2018.