By Eliaser Ndeyanale
PLANS are underway to form an organisation that will put a moratorium on the ‘dangerous’ marine phosphate mining which has a potential to destroy Namibia’s lucrative fishing industry.
A group of around 20 opponents of seabed mining who attended an anti-marine phosphate mining meeting on Saturday at a Windhoek hotel believe that the ocean is a wrong place to delve into because seabed mining technology is largely untested and has devastating environmental effects.
Libolly Haufiku who chaired the meeting expressed concerned that the areas designated for phosphate exploration entirely encompasses the country’s most important fishing grounds and his soon to be registered organisation considers seabed mining of the type being proposed completely incompatible with fishing, and to be an environmentally destructive activity that could not even be economically justified.
He warned that short-term benefits from the phosphate mining should be weighed against long-term side effects.
“There is a developing technology to extract it from sewage on a large scale, which should be explored as a long-term option,” Haufiku said.
In order to clear the air secretary to Cabinet George Simataa last week issued a press statement saying President Hage Geingob had directed that a special Cabinet meeting take place on 7 November to discuss the matter in detail.
According to liberation struggle stalwart Mihe Gaomab I said by next week the envisaged organisation would compile a position paper to be attached to the court case sanctioned by the Association of Fishing Companies. He also said that the organisation would team up with similar organisations internationally and regionally to form alliances to fight seabed mining.
“Together with marine phosphate mining, we will also petition against export of live marine animals as requested by the dubious Chinese company. No such nonsense will be allowed. The Chinese can go to h**l and catch live marine mammals somewhere else,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.
An online petition organised by Earth Organisation Namibia, which is campaigning against marine phosphate mining in July this year called on the Government to hold public consultations on the issue but this never happened.
Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP), which intends to mine marine phosphate off the coast south of Walvis Bay, issued a statement then dismissing the environmental activists.
NMP’s shareholding is made up of Mawarid Mining (Namibia) Pty Ltd (42.5 percent) and Sea Phosphates (Namibia) (Pty) Ltd (42.5 percent) both wholly owned subsidiaries of Mawarid Mining LLC (85 percent), an Omani company, and Havana Investments (Pty) Ltd (15 percent), a local company in which Knowledge Katti is the leading figure. In 2011 the Ministry of Mines and Energy awarded mining licences to LL Namibia Phosphates and NMP but Government placed a moratorium on phosphate mining in 2013.
A Cabinet committee comprising of fisheries, environment and mines ministry representatives had since been asked to investigate whether marine phosphate mining would harm Namibia’s marine life or if it could co-exist with fishing.
To the nation’s shock, the committee decided to approve the seabed mining at the expense of the fishing sector, which is a N$5 billion-a-year industry with only Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Benhard Esau objecting to the mine.
There are bans and moratoriums on seabed mining in New Zealand, the Northern Territory of Australia and Namibia owing to concern about the environmental impacts on the marine ecology.
Those in favour of seabed mining claim that a Namibian phosphate industry would create thousands of jobs and help Namibia to reach its Vision 2030 target of becoming an industrialised country.
The marine phosphate mining project in Namibia, the Sandpiper Project, planned to mine and remove 5.5 million tons of sediment a year. Phosphate is a key ingredient of agricultural fertiliser but is relatively in short supply.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015