Statement on the Environmental Clearance Certificate issues by the Office of the Environmental Commissioner for offshore mining of marine phosphate
The Namibian Chamber of Environment believes that properly conducted environmental assessments by independent and competent professionals is the correct basis on which to take informed decisions regarding major developments in Namibia. This is the requirement of the Environmental Management Act, and this is also consistent with international best practice. The Office of the Environmental Commissioner has followed this approach to arrive at a decision to allow the phased mining of marine phosphates. Because of the sensitivity of the marine ecosystem and a perceived impact on the fishing sector, the Environmental Clearance Certificate has been issued subject to a number of important conditions, as follows: 1. Clearance to proceed is valid for a period of three (3) years. 2. If impacts are found to be greater than expected, and no feasible and acceptable mitigation measures are implemented, then the operation shall be closed and the Environmental Clearance Certificate withdrawn. 3. Bi-annual (twice per year) reports on the implementation of the Management Plan (and the monitoring required therein) must be presented to both the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR). 4. Dredged seabed and water column monitoring must be conducted on a regular basis with reports submitted to MET quarterly. 5. The proponent must fund the establishment of a centre of excellence to monitoring the impact of phosphate mining and to produce generic standards and guidelines for the sector in future. 6. Data from the monitoring must be freely shared with the competent authorities. 7. The best available technology must be used to have least environmental impact. 8. The mining and processing techniques will be reviewed annually against monitoring data, to be done jointly by the proponent and the regulator. 9. Separate environmental clearance must be obtained for the onshore processing plant.