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Sandpiper bashing

Dear Sir,
The article “Sandpiper Phosphate Resource Upgraded” in the Namibia Economist of 31 August 2012 refers.
This article has in turn been published by and by
The article is not based on any proper research. It does not contribute anything to the debate on this important issue. On the contrary, it repeats unsubstantiated views. It confuses the reader. It fails to mention the real concerns, let alone discuss and voice an enlightened opinion on them.
It is disturbing that such an article was not only published by your esteemed newspaper known for its quality reporting, but that it had now been given further prominence by others internationally who had lifted this article surely in all good faith to inform their readers worldwide.
The author paints the financial and other figures about the Sandpiper project also in glowing terms. In doing so he is apparently unaware of the report in the Mining Weekly of last month. In it attention is drawn to the fact that an original target statement from Minemakers contained “material misstatements and omissions regarding the valuation of the JV Sandpiper project and Minemaker’s cash position and the valuation of its shares, as well as other issues”. That claim was made by UCL Resources which is holding with Minemakers a 85% share in Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) being the owners of Sandpiper.
The obvious question now arises and which Minemakers and NMP conveniently ignore: Have Minemakers and NMP made equally “material misstatements and omissions” in presenting Sandpiper to their various Namibian audiences? Can anything be believed of what has been said about Sandpiper? Especially the financial side of it!
Are these figures now being published in that article also to impress a variety of NMP’s audiences and based on these “misstatements and omissions”?
It is incumbent upon both Minemakers and NMP to level with all their Namibian audiences and spell out in full detail and in clear terms what material misstatements and omissions had been made in respect of Sandpiper. Are these figures just being perpetuated in the hope that somehow, somewhere a gullible and non-the-wiser audience and reader will fall for these too good to be true figures.
If full openness and transparency are not forthcoming then the suspicion about the intentions of the two Australian companies will be reinforced and will NMP and its Sandpiper project be viewed with even more apprehension. Until that happens the figures quoted are meaningless beyond comment.
Another point in the article which the author surely could have addressed more appropriately is his observation that dredging will affect “water quality” and that “not much is known how the phosphate sediment will affect the hake”.
He has obviously not followed any of the debate on what this issue is all about. Otherwise, he would have been more aware of the concerns expressed and consequences foreseen by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, international and local marine biologists and the whole fishing industry. The full range of  repercussions have been in the public domain now for several months and could have been consulted with little or no effort. His observations leave the impression that marine phosphate mining is not that serious. That is an irresponsible and careless impression to leave when all present evidence, statistical measurements and scientific studies point to precisely the opposite.
The simple fact which needs to be faced is that the ocean can’t accommodate both a viable fishing industry and a disruptive mining exercise. These two forms of resource utilisation cannot co-exist. It is either the one or the other to thrive – not both. To believe otherwise and use that as a lynchpin argument, illustrates the shallowness of the case presented to advance the projects on a near could-not-care-less approach.
An inept understanding of marine resources and sound marine environmental management is deeply worrying.
Thank you.
Swakopmund Matters

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