Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta insists there was no secrecy surrounding the issuance of an environmental clearance certificate that would allow Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) to mine phosphate off the coast of Namibia.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources this week expressed “shock” at MET’s decision to grant NMP environmental clearance – a decision that has ruffled many feathers.
Shifeta was responding to the public outcry over the issuance of the certificate, which many believe was granted secretively, as it was issued on September 5, but the information was not made public until this week.
A document leaked online subsequently confirmed that the clearance certificate was indeed awarded to NMP by the MET.
Shifeta, who called a press conference to clarify MET’s stance on the issue, said Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila, who signed the certificate, was guided by the Environmental Management Act of 2007 and no one has the right to intervene in his decision, unless the law is amended, if he should be required to report to any other parties.
Shifeta said any aggrieved parties may appeal with their evidence to his office.
The certificate has nine conditions attached, inter alia, allowing NMP to proceed for an initial three years, but if the environmental impacts prove greater than expected, despite mitigation measures implemented, then the operation shall be closed and the certificate withdrawn.
Another condition is that bi-annual reports on the implementation of the management plan must be presented to both MET and the fisheries ministry, and that dredged seabed and water column monitoring must be conducted on a regular basis, with reports to be submitted to MET quarterly.