Namibian firm to integrate phosphate mining with fisheries

Published on
March 19, 2020

Namibian Marine Phosphate Pty Limited (NMP), which is developing the Sandpiper Marine Phosphate project, has expressed optimism it will get an opportunity in 2020 to commence a sea mining undertaking and demonstrate the benefits of such a venture to all marine stakeholders in Namibia.

Company CEO Chris Jordinson told SeafoodSource that, in 2020, NMP hopes to proceed with the development of the marine phosphate project, which was intended to commence nearly eight years ago. The project has been delayed because of environmental, fisheries, and economic concerns expressed by the government and private sector, which Jordinson said have been adequately addressed.

He said development of the NMP project has involved the participation of various private and governmental experts, which has led to the identification of various risk elements that “have been mitigated to ensure that all aspects of the project are fundamentally sound.”

Jordinson said the company had previously provided all needed documentation to show that both NMP and appointed environmental impact assessment (EIA) specialists addressed the concerns of the Namibian fisheries sector at various consultative meetings hosted jointly by the environmental commissioner (EC) and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).

During these consultative meetings, Jordinson said, “NMP was found to have provided all the necessary information had been provided to the EC and Permanent Secretary MFMR by the EIA specialists in regards to concerns raised by MFMR," he said. “To date, all concerns from fisheries have been addressed with sound scientific evidence, concluding that the project will have no significant impact on the marine environment."

Namibian fishing industry workers and organizations have protested the project, arguing no proper environmental impact assessment was carried out before it was issued. 

Jordinson said whenever similar projects such as the NMP undertaking are being developed “the only way both phosphate and fishing will be able to support each other is through a process of transparent co-existence and co-operation.”

The NMP CEO said the company will submit to any future revocation of the company’s license should the Namibian government “have reason to believe that NMP’s phosphate project is harmful to fishing and/or the marine environment.”

“NMP has proposed how it will support and work with fisheries and other interested and affected parties,” Jordinson said.

NMP has previously said a 2018 industry-based, socio-economic study – which circulated within government regarding the development of a phosphate industry in Namibia – “independently demonstrates that the potential economic benefits of establishing a fully-integrated phosphate industry alongside the existing marine diamond mining and fishing industries.”

Initially, a phosphate industry was to create 50,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs, and contribute at least NAD 14.7 billion (USD 905 million, EUR 814 million) to the Namibian economy.

Other economic benefits of a phosphate industry , according to the project proposals and expert analysis, include the contribution of an additional 6 percent to Namibia’s tax revenues and NAD 11.3 billion (EUR 626 million, USD 696 million) to the country’s gross national income.

Going forward, Jordinson said NMP “will continue with the education process highlighting how the development of a phosphate industry will be beneficial for Namibia and Namibian population at large.”

Photo courtesy of Namibian Marine Phosphate Pty Limited/Chris Jordinson

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