WINDHOEK – Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP), which last week scored a victory against the environment ministry’s decision to set aside the environmental clearance certificate to extract phosphate from the Namibian seabed, said it is preparing to start its N$5.2 billion project.
Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta in late 2016 set aside the environmental clearance certificate issued to the company by environmental commissioner Theofilus Nghitila, leading to a court challenge. Judge Shafimana Ueitele, in a judgement handed down last week Friday, found that Shifeta failed to give a fair hearing to NMP before setting aside the company’s environmental clearance certificate, which it obtained in September 2016.
The court, while setting aside Shifeta’s decision, advised that the minister may still call for objections to the project, which has divided public opinion.
Its proponents argue that alarmist concerns that extracting marine phosphate would harm the environment have not been scientifically proven. Its critics say profits and job creation cannot justify possible far-reaching implications to marine life emanating from such extractions.
But in a statement issued this week, NMP says it is ready to engage government as it gears up efforts to start mining phosphate.
“With this matter concluded, the company now welcomes the opportunity to resume working constructively with the Namibian government in order to take the project forward and to resolve any residual stakeholder concerns or misinformation regarding the project development, within the framework of Namibian legislation and the conditions of the environmental clearance certificate,” its statement reads.
“To date some N$780 million has been invested in the project to support exploration as well as technical, economic and environmental studies. Further, development of the project will require an estimated capital investment of N$5.2 billion and is projected to yield government revenues of approximately N$728m per year in tax and royalty payments of N$14.95 billion over ML tenure of 20 years,” it said.
NMP says it remains committed to the principle of co-existence in the marine environment and maintains it has the country’s interest at heart.