Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) ML170 (2012)

In compliance with the conditions of the Mining Licence ML170 issued in July 2011, NMP appointed an Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP) and, an independent team of specialists, to manage the EIA process  to assess the potential impacts arising from dredging of phosphate from the seabed.

The EIA process was duly registered with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (2011). The EIA process was undertaken in compliance with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act (Act No. 7 of 2007).

Compliance with the provisions of the Environmental Management Act  included a full public consultation process, consisting of, public meetings, sectoral meetings, and meetings with key government agencies and ministries was undertaken.

In addition to the environmental baseline data collected on site, the extensive information and data on the characteristics of the marine phosphate deposit acquired by scientists of the South African Geological Survey and the University of Cape Town, in conjunction with the published biogeochemical, oceanographic and biological/fisheries studies conducted by scientists from the National Marine Information and Research Centre (NatMIRC) in Swakopmund, were used by the EIA specialist team to assess the potential impacts associated with dredging the phosphate deposit.

The team of specialists conducting the EIA concluded that the potential environmental impacts were in the low to moderate range in all categories of assessment and that there was no objective reason why dredging should not proceed under carefully monitored conditions.  

This finding was not unexpected considering the relative scale of the proposed dredging operations and that the phophate deposit was formed several million years ago. The deposit has been re-worked several times and re-concentrated by ocean processes resulting in the deposit now being relatively geochemically inert.

It is important to note that the Sandpiper deposit is completely different the phosphates that occur in the diatomaceous mud belt lying inshore of ML170 at depths typically shallower than 200 m. The mud belt is highly active biologically and biogeochemically. It contains hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which is generated by bacterial action giving rise to the well-known "sulphur eruptions" of the region.

The project Environmental Management Plan included the provision for a Baseline Survey to be completed prior to commencement of operational dredging. This was to: 1) obtain a fresh baseline reference set of key environmental parameters immediately prior to dredging. These are to be used for monitoring during operations; and 2) to obtain additional data where necessary to further verify and raise the level of confidence in certain of the original impact assessments.

Once the Environmental Clearance Certificate is approved and issued, the accompanying Environmental Management Plan is a legally binding for purposes of compliance regarding the conditions of both the Environmental Clearance Certificate and that of the Mining Licence. Compliance is monitored by the relevant authorities namely the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

The Sandpiper Project EIA was completed in compliance with the ML170 Mining Licence conditions as stipulated by the Ministry of Mines and Energy as well as the regulations of the Environmental Act (Act No. 7 of 2007). The EIA and EMP were submitted to the Environmental Commissioner 2012.

Read:   Environmental Impact Assessment (2012)

Read:   Environmental Management Plan (2012)



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