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Namibian Marine Phosphate certificate declared invalid

The Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP)’s Certificate has been declared invalid. A Windhoek High Court judge, Harald Geier’s said the company did not correctly apply for an environmental clearance certificate which it needed to commence test mining and mining.

According to the judge, Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) was in breach of the 20-year mining licence issued to it in July 2011 when it carried out what it termed “trial mining” and “bulk sampling” without a valid environmental clearance certificate.

At the end of a 131-page judgement, Geier declared that NMP is not entitled to undertake any “listed activity” under the Environmental Management Act of 2007 until it has obtained a valid environmental clearance certificate for such activity.

The judgement

The judgement was delivered in a case in which three organisations representing the Namibian fishing industry were asking the High Court to review and set aside a decision to grant an environmental clearance certificate to NMP, and also to declare that a mining licence issued to the company is invalid.

The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, the Namibian Hake Association, the Midwater Trawling Association of Namibia and the company Omualu Fishing claimed the process leading to the granting of the environmental clearance certificate to NMP was “fundamentally flawed”, as various provisions of the Environmental Management Act were not complied with.

Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) is owned by Omani billionaire Mohammed Al Barwani through his company Mawarid Mining LLC, which has a shareholding of 85% in NMP, while businessman Knowledge Katti’s company Havana Investments has a shareholding of 15% in NMP.

Environmental management plan

The company’s plan to start a marine phosphate seabed mining project in Namibian waters about 120 kilometres south-west of Walvis Bay has drawn fierce opposition from environmentalists and the Namibian fishing industry, who fear that mining activities could cause serious and long-term harm to the country’s marine resources and endanger fishing activities.

Judge Geier noted that the mining licence issued to NMP was subject to a condition that the company had to undertake an environmental impact assessment over the area covered by its exclusive prospecting licence, and that it had to forward an environmental management plan to the Ministry of Mines and Energy within six months after the licence had been issued.

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