Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Phosphate hangs in the balance

A Cabinet committee dealing with trade and economic issues has reiterated that government will not make a final decision on the future of marine phosphate mining until the ongoing court case has been completed.
The Patriot can reveal that Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Development (CCTED) at its first meeting for 2017 held last month discussed issues related to the Moratorium on Phosphate, Prospecting, Exploration, Mining and Processing thereof. “The CCTED noted that concrete expression on phosphate mining would be done after the high court has expressed itself on the matter and; the Committee and interest groups have beyond reasonable doubt acquainted and satisfied themselves on the true nature of impact on the economy and environment, respectively,” states the minutes of the committee’s meeting that took place on 8 March 2017.
The Environmental Clearing Certificate for phosphate mining issued to Namibia Marine Phosphate (PTY) Ltd by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism last year because it was allegedly conducted outside the framework of the Environmental Management Act, 2007 (Act No. 7 of 2007), hence key processes of the Act were allegedly overlooked.
The committee is made up of several ministers deputy ministers and government officials.
Some of the ministers who were present at the 8 March 2017 meeting include Tom Alweendo, Minister of Economic Planning and Director-General: National Planning Commission (Chairperson), Obeth Kandjoze(Minister of Mines and Energy),Alpheus !Naruseb(Works and Transport), John Mutorwa(Agriculture, Water and Forestry), Pohamba Shifeta (Minister of Environment and Tourism) and Benhard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
“The CCTED noted that amid the court case application lodged in the high court by the Confederation of Namibia Fishing Associations; the Namibian Hake Association; the Midwater Trawling Association of Namibia; and Omualu Fishing against the Ministry of Environment and Tourism; the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources; the Ministry of Mines and Energy; the Office of the Attorney-General, and Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP), it is still required of the CCTED to provide feedback to the Prime Minister and the legal team on the status of the agenda item,” noted the meeting.
According to the committee, it was crucial that stakeholders involved should proof scientifically that phosphate mining can or cannot destroy the marine ecosystem. Thus, the scientific outcome whether it can or cannot destroy the marine ecosystem would determine whether phosphate mining can take place in the Namibian sea or ocean.
The committee directed the Permanent Secretaries from National Planning Commission; the Ministries of Environment and Tourism; Fisheries and Marine Resources; Mines and Energy; a delegate from the Office of the Attorney-General, Environmental Commissioner, the Commissioner of Mines to meet and draft a Cabinet Agenda Memorandum to brief Cabinet on the status and progress made regarding a Moratorium on Phosphate Prospecting, Exploration, Mining and Processing.
“That the Cabinet Agenda Memorandum to be drafted by the Committee comprising of key resource senior personnel be the fundamental point of discussion during the Deliberative Cabinet Meeting of 28 March 2017, the committee members resolved.
The committee held its second meeting for 2017 on Wednesday[5 April 2017].
A few months ago NMP filed a notice of motion at the High Court to appeal a decision by the environment minister Pohamba Shifeta to withdraw an environmental clearance certificate that was issued.
NMP commissioned environmental experts and scholars in a consultative process including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the University of Stellenbosch and experts from London to assess the impact of phosphate mining in the presence of an official of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, although the ministry has consistently denied being part of the consultation process that led to the awarding of the clearance certificate.
The license led to Esau and Shifeta making contrary statements in public on the matter, a situation which exposed an apparent lack of coordination between ministries.

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