Moratorium On Phosphate Mining Remains

The fisheries ministry remains resolute in its position on the moratorium on phosphate mining and will only re-consider its position when it has studied the final results of the ongoing environmental impact assessment.

The comments, made in the National Assembly this week by the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, follow international reports that Israel’s Leviev Group (LGC) is aiming at mining phosphate off Namibia’s coast by 2018.

The Leviev group of companies is controlled by Lev Leviev, diamond baron and the controlling shareholder of Africa Israel Investments.

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is resolute in its position with regard to the moratorium and is determined to protect the living marine resources and conserve the marine ecosystem as per its mandate,” said Esau.

Cabinet last year placed an 18-month moratorium on industrial mining activities to enable the ministry to conduct a strategic environmental impact assessment. The ministry has since contracted a Norwegian company, SINTEF, to carry out the scoping study for the assessment and to build the capacity of Namibians in this area.

Government is concerned that the removal of soft sediment from the seabed along with living organisms and the suspension of fine sediment in the seawater may affect the functioning of the marine ecosystem negatively.

“The ministry is further concerned that any contamination or suspended particles from mining activities may have aerse effects on the fish larvae and their development and thus [we] need to investigate the breeding and nursing areas, breeding patterns of the commercially important species in relation to the mining activities, as well as the current dynamics,” Esau said this week.

The minister also said that shipping bulk wet sediment to land-based processing sites poses risks to the marine environment associated with loading, transport, processing, especially the waste in the sea, importantly if fertilizer factories are planned. Phosphate is an important component of fertilizer.

Esau said information collected during the moratorium would provide an indication as to whether marine phosphate mining and the fishing industry can co-exist.

He vowed that government is committed to ensure that proper scientific investigations are carried out that will allow it to make an informed decisions about the future of phosphate mining in Namibia and has thus not changed its position regarding the matter.

Source : New Era