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Phosphate mining application dribbled forward

Phosphate mining application dribbled forward

Niël Terblanché

THE application by proponents of phosphate mining from the sea bottom off the coast of Namibia will have to wait until the end of January to hear when their day before a judge will come.


The matter was supposed to resume in the High Court on Wednesday but council for the applicants, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s (MET) application and other respondents in the Namibian fishing industry, agreed to meet the presiding judge in Chambers on 30 January this year when a final date for the hearing will be determined.


The matter stems from the cancellation of an Environmental Clearance Certificate that was granted in favour of Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) to go ahead with mining samples in 2016.


The Environmental Commissioner during 2016 granted the certificate with a three-year validity period, but it was with conditions which would only allow the testing of phosphate mining, and would help gather data about the proposed new industry in the Namibian territorial waters.


Photo: File


However, the certificate was already nullified by the environment minister at the end of 2016.


The matter before the High court consists of two pending cases and that a final decision about Phosphate mining from the sea bed can only be reached after these matters have been resolved.


The Chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, said that the matter was supposed to continue in the Windhoek High Court, but that the legal teams agreed to meet the judge in chambers at the end of January.


“It was a very quick process in court today. The judge ordered that the meeting would be held in chambers at the end of January shortly after we sat down and then it was all over,” he said.


In September last year, more than 1 000 workers in the fishing industry participated in a mass protest against the prospect of marine phosphate mining.


The workers united under the banner of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) and demanded that government not grant the prospective miners an environmental clearance certificate.


In their petition, the workers claimed that marine phosphate mining was being promoted by a few people whose love for money outweighed the well-being of the majority of Namibians and the Namibian economy.


During August last year, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, claimed that marine phosphate mining proponents tried to pressure him into approving the controversial seabed mining method.


In the matter before the High Court, NMP wants the judge to compel the MET officials to make a decision on its continued efforts to be granted the certificate it needs to commence marine phosphate mining.

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