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Phosphate verification underway

A N$14 million verification programme meant to “bust the myths” surrounding the development of the planned N$3.1 Sandpiper Project is currently underway, the Economist has established.
Namibian Marine Phosphate, developers of the project, called for a verification programme after their project received criticism and resistance from the fishing industry and environmentalists who fear that the project will cause disruptions to the marine ecological system. This, they argue, will  affect fish numbers and ultimately the economy and the livelihood of thousands who rely on the fishing industry for survival.
The fishing industry is the country’s second biggest earner of export receipts after mining.
Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) Project Operations CEO, Barnabas Uugwanga said Thursday that the verification programme, designed to provide additional scientific data on the effects the project is expected to have on the marine ecological system, started in June already.
Uugwanga said NMP is working closely with officials from the ministries of Fisheries and Environment and Tourism as well as several independent scientists to ensure the integrity of the process, and to bring closure to the company’s disputed Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study on the Sandpiper Project.
The verification programme, which is conducted in three phases, is currently focused on Phase one and two, while phase three will start in November 2013.
Uugwanga said it is still early days to comment on the results of the findings as the scientists are still collecting data. He said the findings will be communicated to the relevant authorities and the general public as soon as the results are known.
Despite the scepticism and resistance surrounding the project, Uugwanga said NMP remains committed to developing the Sandpiper Project in an environmentally friendly manner. “We are committed to creating jobs, we are committed to supporting government’s vision of industrializing Namibia,” he said.
In May, a confident Uugwanga announced that Namibian Marine Phosphate had resolved to conduct a verification programme as a way of ensuring that all the fears and the “myths” surrounding the project are busted.
Uugwanga said at the time: “Generally it is not required for a company to do a verification programme of their Environmental Impact Assessment, but we feel that we have a responsibility as a company to ensure that the fishing community’s fears and concerns are addressed by putting together funds for a verification programme that will ascertain the scientific opinions stipulated in the EIA report. We are basically putting our money where our mouth is.”
Uugwanga said Namibia Phosphate Marine is confident of the work that they have done when they carried out their Environmental Impact Assessment study, adding that a verification programme to be conducted together with government scientists, was proof of the company’s confidence on the work that has been done.
Meanwhile, NMP said plans are at an advanced stage to start agricultural trials with the “Namphos Rock” (Phosphate rich sand )in Namibia.
The company said it has already identified a competent institution which has the relevant knowledge on growing crops, production, fertilizer and soil science. The initial trials will be on a small scale and would be scaled up in the coming year and also tried in various parts of the country.
The company said it has already tested its “Namphos Rock” at the International Fertilizer Development Center in Florida, USA and the results have indicated that the Namibian Phosphate Sand is amongst the best three direct application phosphate sand/rock in the world.
Direct application means that the phosphate sand can be applied directly as a fertilizer without further processing into SSP (Single-Super Phosphate), TSP (Triple-Super Phosphate) or other phosphate based fertilizers. The trials in Florida indicated that the Namphos Rock works well in low pH soil, according to the company.

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