While it awaits the outcome of a once again postponed court case, Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) has completed a series of online information workshops that sought to inform potential future employees and members of the community about progress being made into its intended Sandpiper marine phosphate mining project.
The project has been in limbo since 2012, owing to environmental objections.
Its environmental clearance certificate has been set aside after being awarded in 2016.
The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Association and three other parties have taken NMP to court, citing the legitimacy of NMP’s Sandpiper mining licence.
An initial hearing was held in July 2020 and the court case has since been postponed from March 8, to April 12 and now to June 16.
NMP’s Sandpiper project is about 60 km off the coast of Namibia and 120 km south-west of Walvis Bay, with its mining licence covering a 2 233 km2 area in water depths of 180 m to 300 m.
To allay public fears and stop the spread of “misinformation” about the project, which NMP states has been spreading in Namibia, CEO Chris Jordison says the workshops also put forward facts that showed the project would not cause severe harm to local fishing industries or the environment.
A lot of the current misinformation is being derived from “emotive action”, instead of being based on “factual information”, he suggests.
In this regard, he says the Sandpiper project will be not much different to the marine diamond mining operations that have historically been conducted off the coast of Namibia.
Jordison adds that the project will also use a fixed pipeline to transfer mined phosphates to shore infrastructure for processing and will not use a rainbow discharge technique, which “would be bad for the environment”.
“We will use sealed pipelines, to ensure we do not lose any phosphates through the discharge process,” he says.
NMP COO Mike Woodborne adds that, in the absence of knowledge, rumours and misinformation can abound.
“People that have not been given the correct advice or information when they have put forward legitimate concerns to their line ministries or associations had been given incorrect information and then that becomes what they believe.”
He says marine mining faced “similar issues” when marine diamond mining commenced in the early 1970s and 1980s.
“There were concerns, which were ultimately addressed through very similar sets of processes [as NMP is currently undertaking] where proper information was made available over the course of time.
“In many cases, the concerns raised were demonstrated not to have any real basis.”