Phosphate impact report meets requirements

Sandpiper project forges ahead
An environmental assessment practitioner completed the assessment and the final report was submitted to the relevant authorities, NMP said.
Ellanie Smit
A final environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report for phosphate mining at the coast has met the environment ministry’s requirements.

The report was submitted to the ministry at the end of October for the planned Sandpiper Marine Phosphate Project near Walvis Bay.

This is according to Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP), which gave an update on its application process for an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) regarding mining licence 170 (ML 170) for the project.

“In accordance with the provisions of Section 35 of the Environmental Management Act, the environmental commissioner has advised that the ESIA has met the prescribed requirements in terms of content and, accordingly, the application and ESIA will now be notified in the prescribed manner.”

The High Court last year issued a court order that no activities may proceed at the project without an ECC.

The court found that NMP did not apply in the prescribed manner for the certificate during the relevant time. It, however, declined to declare the company’s mining licence invalid.

Validity challenged

The legal proceedings were aimed at challenging the validity of ML170, which was issued by the ministry of mines in July 2011.

NMP said - as required by law and under the provisions of the Environmental Management Act - the comprehensive application and ESIA process has been managed by an independent environmental assessment practitioner (EAP).

According to the company, the EAP completed the assessment phase and the final marine ESIA report, which includes the current and best available scientific data for the area as well as proposed operations, and it was submitted to the environmental commissioner and the relevant authorities.

According to NMP, a total of 133 interested and affected parties formally registered to participate in the application process and the ESIA was advertised and made available for public comment prior to submission.

The proposed project will entail dredging and recovery of marine phosphate sediments using a trailing suction hopper dredger from water depths of between 190 to 275 metres, the company said.

Sampling for mineral resources and ore reserve development as well as environmental surveys and monitoring will also be done.

Proposed project

“The proposed project will involve mining of approximately 2.5 square kilometres yearly. That equates to 0.0003% of the seabed within Namibia’s exclusive economic zone, coexisting with marine diamond mining and the fishing industry,” according NMP.

It said the project will recover approximately 5.5 million tonnes of ore annually for onshore beneficiation to produce three million tonnes of phosphate concentration per annum.

Over 600 Namibians will be employed - both directly and indirectly - for construction and operations in Walvis Bay, it said.