No approval granted for phosphate mining: MET

20 Sep 2019 14:20pm
WINDHOEK, 20 SEP (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has confirmed that no approval has been granted for phosphate mining.
MET’s confirmation follows recent public scrutiny over social media as well as public demonstrations about the granting of a phosphate mining clearance.
A media statement issued on Thursday by MET said the ministry wishes to provide clarity around phosphate mining in Namibia after observing recent public concerns on misleading information circulating on social media.
The statement said in 2016, when the Environmental Commissioner granted an environmental clearance certificate, it was with conditions to test the mining of phosphate and gather data in the Namibian waters.
It noted that the certificate was issued for a period of three years with conditions that if evidence is found that it harms the environment, the activity will immediately be stopped.
“The decision of the Environmental Commissioner to grant the clearance then was appealed by Michael Gaweseb to MET and at the end of 2016, the minister decided to set aside the decision of the Environmental Commissioner and nullified the clearance,” the statement said.
It further emphasised that the minister’s decision was appealed by a company with phosphate mining interest in the High Court, claiming that they were not given a fair hearing. It added that the High Court then set aside the decision by the minister to repeal the Environmental Commissioner’s decision.
It further noted that in June 2018, the minister heard the case and again nullified the clearance certificate and requested the Environmental Commissioner to do further consultation on the matter.
“What this means is that there is no environmental clearance certificate to mine phosphate now in Namibia because the power of the minister when deciding on the appeal cases is above the Environmental Commissioner and can only be challenged in the High Court,” it said.
It concluded that the matter of phosphate mining is currently before the High Court with two pending cases – the case by the fishing industry is challenging the validity of the phosphate licences granted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the other is by a phosphate company, to have the Environmental Commissioner make a decision to grant them a clearance certificate.
“We are now waiting for the outcome of the High Court on the two cases. Only then can a way forward be made. Namibians are urged to be calm and reject with condemnations the insinuations that phosphate mining is approved,” the statement said.