No positive end in sight for phosphate confusion
In 2014, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources called a press conference aimed at clearing up any confusion about the moratorium placed on phosphate and provided a very brief update on the desktop research conducted by Norwegian based Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Institute for Marine Research.
The moratorium led to the need for the study and the moratorium has since, well, run its course. In the mean time a lot of interesting things have a) either happened or b) were supposed to happen. To our far south-East, New Zealand and Australia may have missed the opportunity of a lifetime when they chose not to have any marine phosphate activities carried out in its waters. How the ministry has responded to this is quite odd, sad, funny or just pathetic. Why? Nothing has happened yet.
Israeli firm LLV, announced that it was going to conduct experimental marine phosphate mining. No word from the ministries of Fisheries and Mining on the matter again quite oddly. You can’t blame LLV on their ambitions to push ahead with mining activities either.
An inter-ministerial committee was supposed to be established that would jointly seek a way forward on the phosphate issue comprising the environment and mining. Again, nothing has happened. The media has probably not addressed the issue as required.
Legally, where do we stand on the issue and are there limitations to what can be done as far as mining activities are concerned? It should be noted that the moratorium has since lapsed. There was no indication as to whether it would be extended and I guess whoever can apply for EPLs and even extend these towards Mining Licenses should there be potential for mining.
Where does this leave us as a country, no moratorium, no word on the findings of the study and a horde of phosphate miners who are perhaps anxiously looking at how they can use this to their advantage, case in point a very flamboyant business man who likes using the hashtag #DearLife on social media.
Have teams from the ministries been sent to Oceana to compare notes on the matter? You know, that inter-ministerial committee that probably get very nice S&T allowances and other benefits for doing absolutely bugger-all. Speaking of which, who is heading this committee, what are the levels of experience and knowledge and why haven’t we ever heard from them. Why not pull a similar move and close the door for any marine phosphate mining, even if it is in the guise supposed experimental phosphate mining. Draw a thick line in the sand and forget about what could have been.
Alternatively, go with the findings of the scientific study and open the waters to mining, unless of course we are not particularly confident in the findings themselves, which should be very obvious by now. Why then not release the findings to the general public, make a decision and get on with the business of the day.
The day will come when a decision will have to be taken and the sooner we start embracing that reality, the better for all involved.
I leave it there.