The Managing Director of Lev Leviev Diamonds (LLD) Namibia, Mr Kombadayedu Kapwanga, has come out strongly against the fishing industry stating that fisheries seem to be in what can only be called “a beauty contest with the mining sector.”
Kapwanga responded to a statement by Mr Matti Amukwa, Chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations.
Amongst others, Kapwanga disputes the validity of this statement, and the credentials of the advocacy group, Swakopmund Matters, which distributed the statement to a wider audience.
In his statement, Amukwa recently questioned the credibility of economic projections of phosphate mining and the reliability of the environmental impact assessments, still to be conducted by the companies licensed to do exploration for offshore phosphate mining.
“Regarding the in-depth research required before marine phosphate mining activities commence, it is not the responsibility of the mining industry.
It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. Why is fisheries not questioning their ministry and instead putting the blame on the mining industry?” Kapwanga asked.
Kapwanga further explained that all figures circulating are from the feasibility studies conducted and verified by reputable institutions including banks.
He said in resistance, “with regard to the statement of Namibia’s ocean being made the experimental ground for phosphate mining, it was explained that there is nothing special about phosphate as a mineral. Mining in the ocean is just mining whether for sand aggregates or dredging a harbour. Namibia is not treading on virgin ground as it has been mining diamonds from the ocean for many years.”
Shifting the focus to New Zealand and Australia where it has previously been reported that marine phosphate mining was banned, Kapwanga stated,“it is a factual inaccuracy as no country has banned phosphate mining as countries such as New Zealand are required to conduct studies to apply for Environmental clearance, whereas Australia did not ban phosphate mining but there is no phosphate in their ocean.”
“Moving on, it was stated that the phosphate acid plant is a highly complex chemical/industrial operation and would be designed and built by specialist companies from overseas who have the skills and who will bring with them their own workforce to carry out the highly specialised tasks,” Kapwanga refuted allegations that the imported workers will replace Namibian workers.
Amukwa earlier requested a profile of the jobs and what levels of education is required.
“It was said that Namibia has enough instruments in place to cater for skills transfers, and that every new additional job created in Namibia should be welcome. The levels of the jobs in mining and manufacturing are definitely higher than the fishing industry requirements.
The mining industry has three campuses of the Namibian Institute for Mining & Technology (NIMT) to train cadres for the mining industry.
These are complemented by the various government funded Vocational Training Colleges. I think as a country we are quite in a good position to make sure that skills are transferred. Even if skills are not there it does not mean that we should not create new industries,” Kapwanga hit back.
Regarding local shareholding, Kapwanga retorted “In comparison it was said that only 15% – 24% of the shares in the phosphate mining companies will be held by a selected group of Namibians, however similarly the shares in the fishing industry are being held by a selected group of Namibians who sell their quotas to foreign fishing companies.
In the phosphate industry it will be some time before even the shareholders see profits. As to Lev Leviev Namibia Phosphate, the Government of Namibia has 10% of the shares while other shares belong to broad-based communities.”