BCLME Namibia Seabed Mining Report (2008)


The report is available from the Benguela Current Commission (www.benguelacc.org) and has direct relevance to the NMP marine phosphate project for the following reasons:


1) The BCLME report provides compelling physical evidence accumulated over a decade (1998 – 2008) of studies comprising numerous expert reports, baseline surveys, before-after/control impact studies and recovery monitoring surveys have been conducted to investigate the many concerns raised at these stakeholder consultations. These studies have concluded that many of the alleged impacts either do not occur or are insignificant in comparison with natural processes in the region or with the impacts of fisheries themselves.

The results of the seabed mining impact are presented in Chapter 5 of the report.


2) The impacts of seabed excavation for marine mining do alter the habitat in the mining area but are not significant at the scale of the operations when compared to the overall marine ecosystem and the seabed does recover over time, albeit at differing rates ranging from 2 – 15 years depending on depth.


3) Even in the most heavily and longest mined Atlantic 1 licence area (ML 47) off southern Namibia, < 1% of the total concession seabed area has been mined over the past 25 years. This contrasts markedly with the mistaken impression that the entire Namibian and South African west coast area has been impacted by marine mining.


4) Fundamentally all seabed mining activities comprise the process of seabed excavation by some form of dredging in order to process the material for recovery of minerals.


5) There are direct parallels between the related seabed impacts of marine diamond dredging and the proposed marine phosphate dredging operations (which have an annual footprint approximately 2.5km2/year being 20 – 25% of that of marine diamond mining operations estimated currently at approx. 15 km2/yr)


6) The presence of phosphate in sediments is not specific to the project area as phosphate occurs in varying concentrations in the sediments across the entire Namibian shelf area that is accessed for both marine diamond mining as well as bottom trawling.


7) Seabed trawling does impact the seabed and ecosystem which must be factored into the consideration for management of the marine environment as detailed in Chapter 6 of the report.


8) The findings presented in the 2008 BCLME seabed mining impact assessment report that the Benguela ecosystem and fishing industry are not affected at the scale of operations  are essentially consistent in many cases with the findings presented by independent environmental experts on the proposed scale of marine phosphate mining in ML170 in the 2012 Environmental Impact Assessment Report and 2014 EIA Verification Study Report as well as Independent External review reports that were completed.

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