Geingob directs Cabinet to discuss phoshate issue

President Hage Geingob has directed a Special Cabinet meeting to take place in less than a week to discuss the ongoing phosphate debate in detail. This was revealed by George Simataa, Secretary to Cabinet, after a discussion on the issue in the National Assembly last week was blocked by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, resulting in seven opposition members walking out.

The Special Cabinet meeting is to be held on 7 November.
“Subsequently, the Namibian nation will be informed of the strategic decision taken by the Government of the Republic of Namibia on the matter,” the statement compiled by Simataa reads.
Geingob has now intervened in the matter after the company Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP), a Joint Venture between Australian mining house UCL Resources Limited, Oman based Mawarid Mining LLC, and Namibian Company Havana Investments (PTY) Ltd., was issued an Environmental Clearance on 5 September. NMP’s board of directors are Tariq Al Barwani, Sushil Srivastava and Knowledge Katti. “Following the granting of this licence, there have been negative reports that off-shore phosphate mining may have a negative environmental impact on the aquatic life and the entire fishing sector long term,” Simataa states. By directing to have such a special meeting Geingob wishes to have
These concerns addressed. Simataa’s statement was issued shortly after the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, for the first time officially brought up the issuance of the licence in the National Assembly on Thursday. A debate after the statement was blocked by the Prime Minister. Although Esau raised various concerns during his statement, he noted that his Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to “provide an ami Cable approach.”
“An environmental clearance certificate has already been issued for the marine phosphate mining to commence anytime now. This has been done despite the fact that there are no credible scientific results backed by sound methodologies to justify issuance of an environmental clearance certificate,” Esau said. He added that the issued clearance certificate indicates that the mining company (NMP) will establish its own controls (on how this mining is to be carried out to minimise aquatic ecosystem damage), an approach which is unacceptable from an official control point of view.”
Esau also noted tthe clearance was issued despite the fact the opinion of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, as the Competent Authority on this matter, “has not been considered.”
“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is the only State organ with scientific skills, human resource capacity and facilities to competently carry out marine ecosystem assessments.
The observations by our scientists were ignored,” he said. In this regard he said private findings by consultants conducting an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) “were lacking in scientific methodology, accuracy
and interpretation.”
Esau further said the initial 18 months long moratorium, which has in the meantime expired, was issued as Government had decided to adopt a precautionary approach when it comes to the mining of phosphates.
This was due to the fact that unlike other minerals in the sea such as diamonds, marine phosphates are derived from fossils of living fish and other animals in the sea, and act as fertiliser of the sea, supporting life of smaller organisms which in turn support the rich fisheries.
“We were aware at the time that marine phosphates exist in many oceans of various countries, but are not extracted on industrial scale due to the high risk to marine ecosystems that such mining poses,” he said.

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