Mining threatens black rhino
A leading Namibian tourism website, Tourbrief.com published a report this week indicating that mining prospecting has started in the pristine former Damaraland.
Tourbrief said: “according to reports, several licenses have been issued for prospecting on the range of the black rhino.Tourbrief has been informed that prospecting licenses for minerals and coal seam gas have been issued for the Palmwag Concession and surrounding areas, and that exploratory holes are planned. This region is a particularly sensitive ecosystem, and forms the main range of the desert-dwelling black rhino, desert lion and desert elephants.”
In addition to the concern for preservation of the ecosystem, and conservation and security of its species, sources have expressed concern over potential use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Fracking, often associated with extraction of coal seam gas, involves pumping water, gas and other substances at high pressure into holes drilled in rock. The rocks then crack, making the extraction of gas easier.
Critics of fracking have noted that in addition to heavy use of water reserves, waste water from the process may be contaminated.
Tourbrief said according to an expert in conservation,Rob Moffet of Wilderness Safaris in Windhoek, the extraction of natural resources will create employment and generate foreign exchange. Tourbrief quoted Moffet emphasising, “this must be consistent with our much-publicised Constitution sustainability clause Article 95 (l) which stipulates that the state shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies which include the: maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefits of all Namibians. With this particular Article, Namibia is obliged to protect its environment and to promote sustainable use of its natural resources.”
Moffet further said that Wilderness is adamant that appropriate EIAs should be conducted and should cover, in comprehensive detail, the commissioning, operational and decommissioning stages.
“Along with our partners we strongly advocate that the authorities responsible weigh up the short term economic benefits of the extraction of finite resources that ultimately contribute to global warming, in the case of coal and gas specifically, and these impacts should be carefully weighed up against the long term renewable economic and other benefits of sustainable industries such as ecotourism which do not compromise the environment,” Moffet concluded.