Namibia U-turn on phosphate mining – by Timo Shihepo (Southern Times – November 7, 2016)

WINDHOEK–NAMIBIA’S environment minister, Pohamba Shifeta, this week succumbed to public pressure and temporarily suspended the decision to issue an Environmental Impact Assessment clearance certificate for marine mining off the Namibian coast.

The controversial decision to grant Namibia Marine Phosphate (NMP) permission to start mining was also subject to a legal suit by the country’s fishing industry before Shifeta’s U-turn on Wednesday.

Shifeta has denied any wrong-doing on his part and that of his ministry. He attributed his change of heart to “public interest”. The Minister of Environment and Tourism maintained that all the procedures were followed when awarding a clearance certificate, which sparked a highly-charged public debate.

Shifeta has now set aside the certificate granted to NMP on September 5, 2016, on the basis of “public good” and his constitutional obligations.

The minister has also ordered the Environmental Commissioner, Teofilus Nghitila, to notify the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the fishing industry and all other interested parties to finalise their inputs and objections regarding marine phosphate mining in Namibia within three months. Shifeta also announced that he would extend the public consultation process regarding marine phosphate mining in Namibia for another six months.

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