Marthina Mutanga & Eba Kandovazu
APPROXIMATELY one hundred fishing industry workers and different union members nationwide this morning gathered at the parliament gardens to protest against the proposed marine phosphate mining.
According to Namibia Public Workers’ Union (NAPWU) members and scientist Sioni Ikela, the proposed phosphate mining will only employ two percent of Namibians out of the 150 workforce that will be hired by the two companies that are looking to start mining phosphate from the seabed off the Namibian coast.
“The rest of the employees will be foreign experts because we do not have phosphate mining experts in Namibia. We are saying no to phosphate mining as it will destroy the entire marine ecosystem. With the processing of rock phosphate comes heavy metal residue that will expose our aquatic species to danger,” Ikela said.
Handing over the petition, the National Union of Namibia Workers (NUNW) Secretary-General Job Muniaro stressed that the two phosphate mining companies were wrongfully issued environmental clearing certificates by the mines ministry and the environment ministry.
“Globally, there have been calls to ban mining on the seabed. In Europe, the NGOs and civil society have been calling for a ban on a potential environmental destructive frontier industry. In addition, concerned citizens are calling on EU to stop funding such reckless development activities in the Pacific. The economic phosphate layer thickness on the sea bottom ranges between one centimetre to a thickness of up to three meters. The underlying mud, however, just like the inside cores of the pellets, consists of various harmful substances to the environment. lf these muds are to be exposed to deep-sea currents sweeping across it the currents would easily lift up these clayey particles and keep it suspended underneath the water column at depth for miles and eventually upwelling currents will raise these muddy water to surfaces along our coastal lines and beyond,” Muniaro said.
According to him, phosphate mining will not only have major environmental effects, but will also contribute to the raise in phytoplankton and zooplankton population – reducing the already low oxygen level in the sea.
He added that the food chain will be poisoned.
Deputy Executive Director in the Office of the Prime Minister, Saima Shaanika received the petition and promised to forward it to the relevant authorities.