Swakopmund Matters on record
During the past week the CEO of Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP), Mr. Barnabas Uugwanga, has aired some remarks which call for response and perspective.
His observation that “environmental concerns raised so far have probably emanated from the fact that this is the first time phosphate has been found in such large quantities” illustrates yet again the superficial understanding of these concerns. Quantities do not determine concerns! Damage raises them. It is how and where these quantities will be removed that causes alarm.
His attempt to minimise concerns by saying that the mined phosphate will not be treated at sea but “at a man-made dam to be built on land” is cold comfort. By now NMP must surely know that concerns relate to what mining/dredging will cause to the marine environment. How the seawater will be contaminated and marine life be affected as a consequence.
His reference to Sandpiper’s land activities and the treatment at the “dam”, brings in any case again to the fore the environmental impact of the land based facilities. It has already been pointed out by Swakopmund Matters in previous communications that there are unquestionably serious and fundamental objections to what the project will cause to the land area in and around Walvis Bay. This project will cause as much disaster on land as it is bound to cause to the ocean. The production, storage and transportation by whatever means – including the impact of the proposed pipeline – on land will have grave consequences.
Internationally renowned authorities are on record voicing their opposition to phosphate mining in all its aspects. Similarly have international studies and academics drawn attention to the inevitable and irreversible consequences of such an industry. They have done so with substantive arguments and supportive facts and scientific evidence. Strenuous opposition exists to the entire Sandpiper project, as well as the other three marine phosphate projects.
NMP skirts the issue of the consequences of mining/dredging at sea. NMP’s “studies” and “reports” by, what they like to call, “reputable institutions” have not removed a single concern about what would happen to marine life and the fishing industry. Not a single claim having been made by NMP over many months has yet been substantiated with proper and convincing evidence.
“Reports” and “studies” abound on which they rely so assiduously and from which they so often quote to impress the uninitiated. The fishing industry, marine experts, marine environmental managers and the public are neither impressed nor swayed by repetitious arguments based on demonstrative fallacies advanced in anonymous reports and studies which remain, unless otherwise proven, but desk studies with outdated information.
NMP is challenged to have these “reports” and “impact studies” subjected to proper and thorough scientific scrutiny and appraisal by internationally recognised, authoritative and acclaimed marine experts and biologists. Let such authorities give their impartial and frank assessments.
Failure to do just that will raise eye brows. But NMP does create the impression that public opinion does not really concern them. Otherwise the current owners of Sandpiper would already have reacted in August to clear what one main shareholder, UCL Resources, accused the other main shareholder, Minemakers, of issuing a statement containing “material misstatements and omissions regarding the valuation of the Sandpiper project”. Failure to have responded has created more suspicion about the intentions of the owners of Sandpiper. No one can blame the Namibian public when it views the Sandpiper project as a whole with even more apprehension.