In 2012, Namibian Marine Phosphate commissioned an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), subsequently in line with the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) a site specific detailed Verification Survey was undertaken (2013-2014). This survey was undertaken: to establish a reference baseline against which dredging could be assessed; to validate the findings of the EIA, thereby confirming the degree to which the proposed operations may affect the marine environment and in particular the commercial fisheries in Namibia.
These studies have involved a host of internationally accredited fisheries and marine scientists, acknowledged experts in their fields, who have relevant knowledge of the Benguela Ecosystem. The activities and findings of these studies have, in addition been subjected to an independent peer review process as well as external reviews by Government appointed specialists.
The Company fully supports the principles of responsible development and management of ocean based industries and reiterates that the clear consensus of independent expert opinion with knowledge of the Benguela Large Marine Ecosystem is that at the scale of the proposed operations, the project can be safely developed and also be well managed within the existing Namibian mining and environmental legislation and regulations without any significant impact to fishing resources or the Benguela ecosystem and in co-existence with the Fishing Industry.
Project Location and Setting
Namibian Marine Phosphate (Pty) Ltd (NMP) is developing the Sandpiper Project and is the holder of Licence Area ML170, located 60 km offshore from Meob Bay. The Licence Area is 2233 km2 in extent and lies in water depths between 190 and 345 m. ML170 contains an estimated 1.8 billion tonnes of phosphatic sand with an average phosphate (P2O5) content of approximately 18%. NMP has identified a 20-year target production area (SP-1) within ML170. SP-1 is approximately 170 km2 in size. From within the SP-1 production area, NMP intends to recover annually approximately 5.5 million tonnes of sediment from an area of up to 3 km2. This will annually produce 3.0 million tonnes of phosphate concentrate at 27.5% P2O5.
Regional mapping undertaken by the University of Cape Town’s Marine Geological Unit in the 1980s has shown that pelletal phosphorite occurs in varying concentrations in the seabed sediments on the Namibian continental shelf from the Kunene River in the north, to Luderitz in the south. Areas of potentially economic concentration occur in two main pelletal phosphate deposits, one to the north of Walvis Bay near Rocky Point and a second much larger deposit to the south-south west of Walvis Bay.
ML170, incorporating the SP-1 production area, lies within the zone of richest concentration of marine pelletal phosphatic sands (>15% P2O5) that lies in a discrete zone between Walvis Bay and Luderitz in water depths greater than 200 m and up to 345 m, this is seaward of the 200 m bottom trawling prohibition zone.
Before being permitted to commence operations in ML170, NMP is required to obtain an Environmental Clearance Certificate from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). This requirement is an important condition of the Mining Licence.