Phosphate mining remains a thorn in the flesh

Fishing companies want to prevent ‘flying ecologically blind’

08 July 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected]
After environment minister Pohamba Shifeta withdrew a clearance certificate for planned phosphate extraction due to pressure by conservationists, the future of the controversial project has now become a legal dispute in the High Court.
An application by the Confederation of Namibian Fisheries Associations was before Judge Harald Geier yesterday to seek a general ban against marine phosphate extraction off the Namibian coast.
At the hearing, the question was raised as to whether a prospecting license received by Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) on 26 July 2011 was still valid.
According to the plaintiff, this licence – based on which NMP is seeking approval for the planned phosphate mining – already expired on 5 February 2013 because the respondents had failed to prepare an environmental impact study for the planned phosphate mining within six months.
They say, regardless of the required clearance certificate, NMP has forfeited the authority to mine the mineral, which is mainly used as fertilizer, in an area of around 2 233km² from the sea floor in an area about 60km off the coast, around 120km southwest of Walvis Bay.

Fishing sector protests
The fishing sector opposes the project on the grounds that a suction dredger is used to extract phosphate from a depth of between 180 and 300 meters, and that roughly 5.5 million tons of marine sediment is transported to the surface each year.
During the planned duration of the project, large amounts of sediment would be dredged from the sea floor in an area of around 60km², thereby driving fish out of the area.
The plaintiffs also argue that the release of particulate matter and minerals could have previously unknown consequences for plankton and other organisms in the ocean, which depend on seabed nutrients and serve as food source for fish.
Should these organisms disappear, fish would be deprived of their food source, which could lead to a disturbance of the ecological balance and could trigger a marine chain reaction with unpredictable consequences.
The applicants also claim that the area identified by NMP serves as spawning grounds for many commercial fish species and a drastic decrease in these species could be expected there. This would lead to a loss of biodiversity and a decrease in stocks, resulting in a drastic impact on the Namibian fishing industry, which not only creates thousands of jobs, but also makes a significant contribution to the gross domestic product.

Environmental concerns ‘unfounded’
In reaction, NMP denies that the planned phosphate mining could lead to a “noticeable impairment” in marine ecology, disturbing the natural balance in the ocean, or cause irreparable damage to the fauna occurring there, describing various reports as “rumors, speculations, guesswork and conjecture”.
At the same time, the company emphasizes that it has carried out intensive research and issued various reports that phosphate mining is far less environmentally harmful than marine diamond mining off the coast.
Furthermore, NMP says that the planned extraction area is only 0.0003% of the total territory of Namibia and is not part of a commercially used fishing area. Apart from the fact that the phosphate deposits are “extremely localized”, the extraction would take place at a depth of around 200m, where no fishing is usually done.
NMP also cited a study that only the Atlantic sole (1% of the total stock) and hake (0.05% of total stock) could suffer from possible phosphate degradation.
Judge Geier reserved judgment at the end of the hearing yesterday.

Similar News


Local musos join global wildlife campaign

1 week ago - 15 October 2020 | Environment

Namibian stars Lioness, Suzy Eises and Elemotho have teamed up with the international organisations Conservation Music and Earthsong to support the Cheetah Conservation Fund in...

We’ll be counting game

2 weeks ago - 12 October 2020 | Environment

With the support of the ministry of environment, forestry and tourism (MEFT), the Nyae Nyae Conservancy undertook its annual game count in September.This involved wildlife...

Sperrgebiet wildflower guide now available as e-book

3 weeks ago - 01 October 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • Antje BurkeThe south-west corner of Namibia not only harbours diamonds but something equally precious – the only large, continuous piece of the Succulent...

Informal residents tackle waste

1 month - 24 September 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected] an estimated 61 tonnes of human faeces plus household trash dumped in Windhoek’s informal settlement open areas every day, the community on...

Pandemic puts pressure on nature conservation

1 month - 22 September 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • Steffi BalzarThe German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ) granted financial support to 25 conservancies since May, as part of the project for community-based...

Hungry lions help to clean up

1 month - 21 September 2020 | Environment

More than 4 000 Hungry Lion staff members, including those in Windhoek took part in World Clean-Up Day, which was celebrated on Saturday. All over...

International accolade for EIF

1 month - 16 September 2020 | Environment

The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) received a certificate of merit for outstanding Sustainable Project Financing at the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards, recognising its...

Ozone for life!

1 month - 16 September 2020 | Environment

Namibia, along with the rest of the world, celebrates 35 years of the Vienna Convention and 35 years of global ozone layer protection today.In a...

Opportunities for encroacher bush

1 month - 07 September 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • Erastus Ngaruka & Arnoldt //GasebBush encroachment can be defined as dominant increase in density of woody plant species on a piece of land....

International support for San

1 month - 07 September 2020 | Environment

The impact of Covid-19 on Namibia’s economy is considerable. However, the impact on many poor rural communities, in particular communal conservancies, could be even greater...

Latest News

Table Tennis rules the roost

1 day - 25 October 2020 | Sports

After seven months of no competition, the Namibia Table Tennis Association (NTTA hosted the annual Windhoek Open at the Wanderers Sports Club last weekend.Due to...

Making plans to mitigate disasters

1 day - 25 October 2020 | Events

The Namibia Red Cross joined government and the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day for Disaster Reduction, encouraging citizens and government to...

N$40 million for NWR

1 day - 25 October 2020 | Tourism

Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) received at N$40 million grant from government in the FY2020/21 Mid-Year Budget Review and Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. The last time...

NIIHA trails this weekend

4 days ago - 22 October 2020 | Sports

The Namibia Inline Hockey Association (NIIHA) hosts national time trials for junior and senior men and women at the show grounds in Windhoek from 23...

Cheaper to ‘tjaila’

4 days ago - 22 October 2020 | Transport

Taxi fares will decrease to the normal rate effective from midnight tonight, thanks to the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.Speaking at the Presidential Covid-19 public...

Keeping cyclists’ wheels rolling

4 days ago - 22 October 2020 | Sports

The RMB Elite Cycling team received cycling gear as part of an overall sponsorship of N$230 000. RMB Namibia has been part of the after-school...

Repo rate remains unchanged

5 days ago - 21 October 2020 | Economics

The Bank of Namibia (BoN) announced that the repo rate would remain unchanged at 3.75%, governor Johannes !Gawaxab said at the Monetary Policy Announcement in...

International recognition for Namibia's EIF

5 days ago - 21 October 2020 | International

The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF) received a certificate of merit at the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards – an honour bestowed on financial institutions...

GIPF invests in home-grown asset...

5 days ago - 21 October 2020 | Economics

The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) announced the introduction of its incubation assets management programme, which commenced in 2019.The programme aims to address the need...

Load More