Marine phosphate mining has never been rejected for not being a good thing, says the Namibia Marine Phosphate CEO for Project Operations.
Barnabas Uugwanga told the media in Windhoek last Friday that no marine phosphate mining has to date been refused anywhere in the world and if that has happened "somebody must tell us".
"Marine phosphate mining and fisheries can co-exist," said Uugwanga, explaining that there will be no treating of phosphate at sea but that this will be done at a man-made dam to be built on land.
The marine phosphate project "Sandpiper" is located on the Namibian continental shelf approximately 120 km south southwest of Walvis Bay. The eastern boundary of the Mining Licence Area is approximately 40-60 km off the coast (directly west of Meob Bay and Conception Bay). This project is the first of its kind in the country.
Environmental concerns raised so far have probably emanated from the fact that this is the first time phosphate has been found in such large quantities, the CEO said.
Uugwanga noted that NMP is "not saying that there will be zero impact on the marine life" but that impact studies have been done by reputable institutions.
The company has submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan Plan for the Marine component of the operations and now waits for the Government to grant them an environmental contract.
While the Ministry of Environment is the regulatory authority, the Ministry of Fisheries has asked for more information since mining will be done in the marine environment.
Phosphorus compounds are used in fertilizers, among others. NMP believes the project will thus contribute to the Namibian economy while supporting crop production.
It is also an important ingredient in detergents, dental creams, toothpastes, flame retardants and stabilizers of plastics and can also be used in canned food and in freezing and thawing processes.
Uugwanga said local production of phosphate will also help secure agricultural productivity and food security in Namibia, the SADC region and elsewhere in the world.
The project is expected to employ 400-500 workers during the construction phase and is expected to have a final workforce of about 150 persons directly employed, with an additional 200 indirect jobs being created.