phosphate mining in namibia

namibia: phosphate mining certificate 'invalid'

A Windhoek High Court judge yesterday dealt a significant blow to Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) when he issued an order declaring that the outfit is not in possession of a valid environmental clearance certificate and is therefore not entitled to undertake mining activities. The possibility of phosphate mining on Namibia's seabed has sharply divided opinions in recent years.

Judge Harald Geier's judgement came after several postponements on an application by the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA), the Namibian Hake Association (NHA), Midwater Trawling Association (MTA) and Omualu Fishing.

The order Judge Geier made reads: "NMP not having applied in the prescribed manner for an environmental clearance certificate during the relevant time - and -currently - in any event being without an environmental clearance certificate - is hereby declared - in accordance with the provisions of Section 57, as read with Sections 27(1) and (3) of the Environmental Management Act of 2007 - not to be entitled to undertake a listed activity until such time that it has obtained a valid environmental clearance certificate in relation to such activity or activities."

He further ordered the applicants to pay the costs of the strike application on the basis of one instructing counsel and two instructed counsels and NMP to pay the rest of the costs on the basis of one instructing and three instructed counsels.

The applicants claimed that NMP - jointly owned by Namibian Knowledge Katti and Omani businessman Tariq Al Barwani - had not complied with the applicable mineral licence conditions in terms of which it had to submit an environmental impact assessment and an environmental management plan report within six months from the date of issue of its mining licence when it submitted a "draft report" in this regard on the last day of the prescribed six month period and a "final one" outside the time window created by the applicable condition.

Geier said in his view what was submitted was in fact a "draft report" and that the relevant condition did not contemplate the filing of a "draft report" and that NMP was thus in breach of the relevant mining condition.

He further said the question is on what authority did NMP continue to collect samples from the seabed as the Act only allows a licence holder to undertake a "listed activity" - an activity listed on the licence - for a period of one year and that such a person wishing to continue with a "listed activity" must apply for an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) before its expiry.

In the case of NMP, the judge said, the only authorisation it had to carry out "listed activities" was the conferral of the licence and it was incumbent on them to apply for an ECC which they failed to do and is thus without an ECC and not entitled to undertake any "listed activities".

An article recently published by the Chamber of Mines of Namibia stated that developing Namibia's marine phosphate resources, coupled with a fully integrated fertiliser industry are optimally aligned to national development agendas.

"A Namibian phosphate industry will create local value addition of raw materials before they are exported, thereby building and promoting regional value chains, bilateral cooperation and continuous reform of the business environment to become more competitive. A phosphate industry provides potential for critical upstream, downstream and side-stream linkages for the Namibian economy, through value addition, integrated business development, logistics services, power, water, skills development and research," the chamber's article reads.

On the other hand, the fisheries industry and unions are vehemently opposed to establishing a phosphate mining operation, arguing that Namibians are committed to responsible and sustainable management of renewable resources.

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AllAfrica is a voice of, by and about Africa - aggregating, producing and distributing 900 news and information items daily from over 130 African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public. We operate from Cape Town, Dakar, Abuja, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Washington DC.

namibian marine phosphate ltd (pty) - namibian marine phosphate ltd (pty)

Namibian Marine Phosphate (Pty) Ltd (NMP) is developing a world class phosphate project off the coast of Namibia that will establish Namibia as a premier rock phosphate producer in the global market, contributing significantly to the Namibian economy and supporting ongoing crop production through the provision of phosphorus for fertiliser.

There is potential to establish future downstream processing of NMP's beneficiated phosphate into higher value phosphorous and compound fertilisersof the resource, particularly for the production of fertiliser. Local production of phosphate will help to secure agricultural productivity and food security in Namibia and the region, as well as elsewhere in the world.

The project will contribute to national and regional growth through employment, royalties and tax revenues. Direct permanent employment will be created, as well as indirect jobs in supporting services. These will include short-term employment during construction and the opportunity for capacity development and training.

marine phosphate mining in namibia comes under fire

Namibian Marine Phosphate is still awaiting its environmental clearance certificate, after their application was set aside for a second time by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta. While the company is heading to court, local people employed in the fishing industry, are protesting in Walvis Bay as the mining poses a threat to their livelihoods and the environment.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

AllAfrica is a voice of, by and about Africa - aggregating, producing and distributing 900 news and information items daily from over 130 African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public. We operate from Cape Town, Dakar, Abuja, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Washington DC.

namibia. marine phosphate mining saga back in court fishing industry news sa

On the one hand the phosphate resource is estimated at two billion tonnes in naturally occurring seafloor sediments. Namibia is also ranked seventh in the world for phosphate resources. Phosphate is also necessary for food security as it helps with crop growth.

At the time it looked likely that the Environment Minister, Pohamba Shifeta, would reinstate an environmental clearance certificate for the Sandpiper Project. This would have allowed it preliminary access to parts of Namibias offshore seabed.

The three fishing organisations with the backing of the National Union of Namibian Workers and Trade Union Congress of Namibia, asked the High Court to nullify the mining permit granted to NMP in 2011.

They argued that no proper environmental impact assessment had been carried out before it was issued in 2015. Although the certificate was set aside in November 2016, in 2018 NMP successfully appealed the environment ministers decision.

As far as NMP is concerned, it has done enough to prove that mining and fishing can co-exist in peace. This has included pulling in a host of independent scientists and specialists to produce 26 independent specialist environmental studies.

The commercial fishing industry for its part is not against sharing sea space. But it has consistently said that there must be proper research to ensure mining does not have a negative impact on the marine environment. Relevant laws and regulation also need to change to ensure stable and controlled mining.

Furthermore, that the fishing industry is a large contributor to GDP, and that significant capital investment has been made in property, vessels, and employment. The country is also working towards marine stewardship certification of hake.

The industry has previously questioned why the proponents of phosphate mining are pushing so hard to get immediate access to the Namibian resource. Some other questions around this have included amongst others:

If we lightly agree to sea mining without thorough research and appropriate legislation in place, Namibia will become the experimental ground for the international sea mining companies, closely watched by the world.

The Tax Justice Network Africa says governments should enact legislation for the mandatory disclosure of beneficial ownership information. Countries such as Namibia will then know publicly where illicit funds are moving and who is moving them.

Regulation must consider all legal vehicles, including companies, trusts, partnerships and foundations. In general, public registries containing this information are considered to be the most efficient way to ensure an effective disclosure, says a Tax Justice Network Africa spokesperson.

Fisheries Minister Albert Kawana knows there is a need to overhaul the fishing industry. He has already agreed that the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act must be amended to bring about more transparency and accountability.

Article 95 of the Namibian constitution requires government to actively promote welfare of the people, stating that Government of Namibia is obligated to: ..maintain ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and in future.

When the prospect of seabed mining was first mooted, the Namibian government stated it was 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.

namibia's dilemma. the pros and cons of marine phosphate mining fishing industry news sa

Rumblings started in April 2018 following the mining industry conference. The Namibian Chamber of Mines backed marine phosphate mining, maintaining that phosphate mining and the fishing industry could coexist. The Chamber intimated that the current moratorium was a missed opportunity in the fight against poverty. It said no jobs could be created, even with the most stringent environmental conditions linked to the environmental clearance.

This following an earlier decision by the Minister of Environment and Tourism in November 2016 to set aside the clearance due to the public outcry at the time. An appeal was lodged against the granting of the certificate by concerned community activist Michael Gawaseb.

The Minister stated the decision was made in order to give more time to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the fishing sector and all other interested parties, to finalise their input against the awarding of the environmental clearance.

NMP is 85% owned by Arabian billionaire, Mohammed Al Barwani, and 15% by Namibian mining industry businessman, Knowledge Katti. The company plans to mine 5 million tonnes of seabed annually about 120 km south of Walvis Bay.

In May 2018, the High Court ruled that the Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta failed to give a fair hearing to Namibian Marine Phosphate before he decided to set aside the environmental clearance certificate in late 2016.

NMP responded to Gawesebs appeal by providing a responding statement to Shifeta near the end of October 2016. Shifeta then proceeded to have an appeal hearing on 31 October 2016. Gaweseb attended the hearing, and was given a chance to be heard. NMP, however, was not represented at the hearing. It was on the basis of this, that NMP took the Minister of Environment to High Court, to get back their environmental clearance.

Having won the case, NMP has said that having spent about Namibia $780 million so far to support exploration as well as technical, economic, and environmental studies, it is preparing to start its Namibia $5.2 billion project.

NMP stated they are now looking forward to working constructively with government in order to take the project forward. This includes resolving any residual stakeholder concerns or misinformation regarding the project development, within the framework of Namibian legislation and the conditions of the clearance certificate. NMP maintain that they have the countrys interests at heart.

Shifeta, in responding to the court judgement, said that NMP have shot themselves in the foot by getting the Environmental Clearance Certificate ruling annulled. The certificate was originally issued in September 2016 with a three-year validity, meaning it will expire in September 2019.

Under the current circumstances it is unclear whether the Minister would then renew the clearance. He charged NMP with preferring to take the High Court route, rather than his original offer of consulting in the first six months following his decision to set aside the clearance, to sort things out.

Since NMP claim that they did not get a fair hearing, the Minister said this is going to be a public hearing. Shifeta clarified that the judge can only rule based on the law, whereas he can rule based on the facts and the mandate of the Ministry of Environment. What happens will depend on the two parties arguments.

NMP, however, is also involved in another pending High Court case about its marine phosphate mining plans. Namibian fishing industry associations are asking the court to declare the mining licence that was issued to NMP in July 2011 as invalid.

Sisa Namandje, lawyer for the fishing associations said their case was strong, and NMP would be blocked from mining if the court agreed with his clients that the mining license had expired at the time they got their environmental clearance in 2016. That case was last week postponed to 4 July for a further case management hearing. NMP were supposed to file some papers in March, and asked for more time.

The fishing industry is the second most important foreign exchange earner after the mining industry. Fishing in 2016 provided about 16800 direct jobs, over half being to women in the onshore fish-processing sector.

The fishing industry has strongly opposed the NMP mining venture, citing that it will negatively affect the fishing grounds of various species. In particular monk fish which lives in the muddy seabed of the mining site area, and hake which has breeding grounds inshore of the mining site.

Workers in the fishing industry are concerned marine phosphate mining is technology based, creating few jobs for locals, yet threatening their existence if it causes serious and long-term harm to Namibias living marine resources.

Voicing concerns that it is a dangerous activity that will release chemicals in the ocean water column, including heavy metals that can get into the food chain, a mass demonstration against marine phosphate mining is planned for 1 June in Walvis Bay. A petition will also be signed at the venue.

A number of companies are looking to mine if the green light is given. For phosphate mining to happen, government would have to create a comprehensive clear legal framework. This will have to take into consideration the marine environmental concerns.

Of significant concern is that in the Namibia Marine Phosphates Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) there are no mitigation measures. The EIA states that there will be little or no environmental impacts very risky if things start going wrong.

There is a monitoring plan, but with so many environmental variables impacting on this adaptive approach, it is difficult to spot problems when they start. Impacts take time to show up. For example if hake breeding and juvenile grounds are being impacted from the mining sediment plume, nobody will know till years later when the fisheries stock goes down. And unless very good monitoring research is being undertaken, the blame can be put on something else like climate change.

In the early days of the Norwegian oil and gas industry, the mining companies did the monitoring. The Norwegian Government saw they werent doing a good enough job, and had to take over. Within a strict legal framework, independent monitoring would need to be applied in Namibia if mining goes ahead. Particularly as this will be a world first for marine phosphate mining, involving bulk extraction.

It would require appropriate capacity building for dedicated government staff that would need to go to sea to undertake the monitoring. Government officials undertake all environmental monitoring and policing of the fishing industry.

This would deal with the approximately 5 million tonnes of phosphate raw marine sediment it will land into Walvis Bay annually to process. And justify how it will deal with the waste in an environmentally responsible manner.

In countries where no such regulations are enforced, for example Togo in West Africa, the waste produced from phosphate mining has flowed into the sea, causing serious problems of contaminated seafood to coastal communities.

Even though they are major agricultural producers utilising phosphate for fertilizer, to date New Zealand and Mexico have followed a precautionary approach. They have opted not to go ahead with marine phosphate mining.

phosphate mining namibia's economy hopeful, says nmp | namibian mining news

Namibia Marine Phosphates, with its proposed Sandpiper marine phosphate mining project, believe that development of phosphate mining will position the country as an exporter of phosphate and fertiliser products.

NMP adds that Namibia, with one of the worlds largest undeveloped phosphate resources, stands to benefit from the development of a phosphate project and fertiliser industry that will support many sectors, including agriculture, mining and employment.

NMP has been envisioning a marine phosphate mining project for many years, using offshore contract dredging 120 km south of Walvis Bay and a shore-based processing plant. NMP also plans to supply the Namibian market primarily with fertiliser and export the products as production ramps up.

In the interim, NMP has been able to adjust its proposed mining method to cater for more modern technology, says NMP COO Mike Woodburn. There have been several adjustments to the project from its original proposal.

He says that, in terms of dredging equipment, autonomous and remote-controlled underwater vehicles can be used to assist in positioning ships and seabed trawling to obtain monitoring information over long periods of time without the need for expensive support vessels.

Onshore, he notes, there has been a major development in the past five years with the expansion of the Walvis Bay port and the construction of the Southern African Development Community bulk gateway terminal which also serves as the primary oil terminal. This will assist NMP in docking its ships, offloading concentrate and establishing its land-based processing plant.

In addition, NMP CEOChris Jordinsonsays the company has secured, in principle, an allocation of portland from Namport, thereby enabling it to, in future (once a contractual land allocation has been granted) develop its processing plant.

The project itself has an 18-month development timeline, but during this, we can also complete the construction of the project. We aim to commence the project at least six months before construction is complete to ensure there is feed for the plant to start processing once it is completed.

Phosphate is a critical component in fertilisers and animal feed supplements and can also be found in a variety of consumer products, such as soft drinks, toothpaste, health and cleaning products. It is also used in industrial and manufacturing processes.

Phosphate allows for increased crop yields and thus productivity on farmland, which reduces the need for further deforestation, maintaining the integrity of global forests. As a result of sustainable agricultural productivity, an estimated one-billion hectares of land globally has been preserved between 1961 and 2005.

NMP states that Namibia has one of the largest undeveloped phosphate resources in the world, estimated to be more than four-billion tonnes, of which the area of highest concentration greater than 10% phosphoric acid (P205) is limited and predominantly located off the south-west coast of Walvis Bay in water depths of between 200 m and 300 m.

According to NMP, a definitive feasibility study (DFS), completed by NMP for the Sandpiper project in 2012 and updated in 2013, concluded that the Sandpiper project was technically, economically and environmentally viable.

Based on a commercially viable cut-off grade of 15% P205, the DFS indicated that there is sufficient phosphate resource within licence area ML170 to sustain mining operations and benefits for future Namibian generations for more than 100 years.

In addition to the DFS, NMP claims that independent scientists and specialists have concluded that, at the proposed scale of operations, the Sandpiper project will have no significant impact on the marine environment and that fishing and phosphate mining can co-exist and that phosphate mining will not kill the local fishing industry.

NMP enlisted international scientists to conduct these studies, costing over N$28.7-million, and ensured all the experts have worked in some capacity on the Benguela coastal system. These conclusions are based on 26 independent specialist environmental studies that were completed as part of the environmental impact assessment process, states NMP.

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