Cabinet to discuss phosphate moratorium

Cabinet is expected to meet before the end of June to discuss the way forward after the moratorium on phosphate lapsed earlier this year. This was revealed by Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources spokesperson, Charlie Matengo this week.

He said “the report is done and should be tabled before cabinet within the coming weeks, possibly before the end of June. Inter-ministerial meetings between the fisheries, mines and environment ministries have been held to discuss the report.” The report was prepared by SANET, a Norwegian maritime research group after a Cabinet directive in September 2013 to investigate the impact of marine phosphate mining.
Added Matengu “the position of the ministry has not changed. Let us find out what are the advantages and disadvantages of marine phosphate mining.
“We need to be quite sure.” This comes after Minister of Mines and Energy Hon. Obeth Kandjoze last week announced at the annual Chamber of Mines expo that the moratorium on marine phosphate mining has been lifted since last week.
In his annual address, president of the Chamber of Mines, Werner Duvenhage expressed his concern after the moratorium had lapsed in March of this year. “The chamber remains concerned that the 18-month period of the Cabinet moratorium on marine phosphate which was declared on 17 September 2013 has lapsed without much progress on the desired scientific studies to address concerns by the fishing industry.”
Expressing his stance in April 2014, the Minister of Fisheries Hon Bernard Esau said “what has led to the moratorium decision is a conflict of interest between the sustainability of the marine ecosystem that supports valuable fisheries in our sea and the international mining companies seeking to mine the seabed for phosphate deposits.
“From the desktop research I have read, Marcia Stanton, Director of the Earth Organisation Namibia, said “Marine phosphate mining has never been done anywhere else in the world and Namibian coastal waters are now facing the threat of being the testing ground.”
He added worringly “our fear as a country for mining phosphate on the seabed is justified by the lack of tangible results after mining, hence the moratorium to give this research project a chance.”