Kenya Kambowe | Namibian Sun | 4 November 2016
The Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) northern branch has condemned the mining of phosphate off the Namibian coast, saying that the interest of Namibians should always come first.
The northern branch also slammed the issuing of the marine phosphate environmental clearance certificate to Namibian Phosphate Mining (NMP) by the environmental commissioner Teofilus Nghitila.
The certificate was subsequently withdrawn by environment minister Pohamba Shifeta who has since ordered Nghitila to inform the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the fishing industry and all other interested parties to finalise their inputs within three months.
The cancellation comes in the wake of an urgent High Court application filed by several fishing associations citing irregularities in the issuance of the environmental clearance certificate. The NCCI is convinced that marine phosphate mining is a harmful process that poses a great risk to marine ecosystems.
“The extraction of marine phosphate is associated with a lot of possible irreversible destruction which can and will be detrimental to the sea ecosystem, with absolutely no possible mitigation factors,” the statement read.
“The negative destruction ranges from extraction to the end results and it gets worse with every stage of beneficiation.” The statement acknowledges the contribution of the fishing industry to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the economy and its significant role in reducing the high unemployment rate in the country.
Furthermore, the chamber argues that the foreign shareholding of NMP will contribute insignificantly to the Namibian economy. NMP is owned by Mawarid Mining LLC (85%), an Omani company, and Havana Investments (Pty) Ltd (15%), a Namibian company, belonging to businessman Knowledge Katti.
“It is important to note that fisheries contribute immensely to our GDP. It brings in a lot of foreign currency through the export of our fish products, most of which are value-added products. Through the value addition, a lot of employment opportunities are created and a lot of Namibians are employed,” the statement further says.
“It is therefore important to understand that, in the first place, phosphate mining will not benefit our sustainable economic development in the long run; no matter how beautiful the picture might be painted. The biggest stake of the shareholding belongs to the foreigners.”