NMP determined to develop Sandpiper project

15 July 2021 | Business

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Namibian Marine Phosphate (NMP) says it plans to constructively engage with the relevant authorities to address the necessary steps required to progress the development of its Sandpiper Project near Walvis Bay.

This follows High Court proceedings - which challenged the validity of NMP’s mining licence (ML 170) – being completed recently, ordering that the company may not proceed with phosphate mining activities until it obtains an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC).

Judge Harald Geier made the court order with regards to the legality of the ECC, which the company applied for after it received its mining licence.

The High Court, however, declined to declare the licence invalid.

The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, the Namibian Hake Association, the Midwater Trawling Association and Omualu Fishing brought the legal action against the company in 2016.

In the application, they requested the court to order that NMP did not apply for the ECC within a prescribed period in terms of the Environmental Management Act, and therefore held that the certificate is invalid.

Greier agreed that NMP did not apply for the ECC during the relevant time and declared that the company may not undertake phosphate mining operations until it has obtained a valid ECC.

In limbo

“NMP is in the process of reviewing the High Court’s judgement, which is a comprehensive document, and will decline from commenting on any further actions at this point,” the company said.

According to NMP, its engagement will also include the Environmental Commissioner’s Office, which is responsible for issuing ECCs.

The project has been in limbo since 2012 due to environmental objections.

“As NMP has always maintained, the development of the Sandpiper Project will provide significant benefits to Namibia and its economy as the first building block in what could develop into an established fertiliser industry.”

According to NMP, based on the comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment, external independent reviews and public consultation processes already completed on the project, expert opinion concludes that Sandpiper will have no significant impact on the marine environment.