'We are not against investments' - Luderitz
"..we want to benefit from this project"
By Asser Ntinda in Luderitz
Karas Region says it welcomes every investment in their region that is given a nod by an independent Environmental Impact Assessment study, EIA, but it also wants to know how its people will benefit from such investments directly and indirectly.
This view was expressly pronounced
at a community briefing
meeting organized by LLNamibia
Phosphates, which is
co-owned by the Leviev Group
of Companies on its proposed
Marine Phosphate Mining Project
The briefing was attended by
the Governor of //Karas Region,
Cde Lucia Basson, Chairperson
of the //Karas Regional Council,
Cde Jan Scholtz, the Mayor
of Luderitz Cde Suzan Ndjaleka,
SWAPO Party Branch Coordinator
and Deputy Mayor of Luderitz
Town Council Cde Hilaria
Mukapuli, and several other community
leaders and business personalities
from the fishing sector.
LL Namibia Phosphate wants
to set up a multibillion dollar marine phosphate plant in Luderitz,
which started with a N$200 million
demonstration plant last year.
The demonstration plant was set
up to make experiments for the
manufacture of fertilizer products
from Namibia's rock phosphate
sampled at a rich deposit in the
LLNP is the licence holder of
this huge deposit, which according
to geologists, may last for the next
500 to 600 years. But this project
is vehemently opposed by a faceless
lobby group based in Swakopmund.
Known as "Swakopmund Matters,"
this lobby group has been
campaigning against marine
phosphate mining in Namibia.
Its campaign letters and reports
first get published on the website
of Earth Organization Namibia.
"We do not know this entity,"
said LLNP Director, Kombadayedu
Kapwanga. "It has no
spokesperson, no contact person.
We do not know where to get
them. How do you deal with a
faceless entity? Is 'Swakopmund
Matters' an extension of Earth
Luderitz Councilor and Chairperson
of the //Karas Regional
Council, Cde Jan Scholtz, said
during the briefing that they had
talked the talk, and the time had
now come for them to walk the
"This is an opportunity for us
to hear from the horse's mouth,"
he said as he introduced LLNP
delegation to Governor Basson
and her delegation. "This is an
opportunity for us to hear from
them. Let us ask questions that
will address our concerns as a
"This is a briefing, not a decision-
making session. The final
decision lies with our government
and other stakeholders.
We are being briefed about this
massive project and what impact
it will have on our lives as residents
of //Karas Region in general
and residents of Luderitz in
"We should not just believe
what we read in newspapers. Let
us listen to them and compare it
with what we read in newspapers.
We will know where the
truth is. Let us ask questions so
that we are clear from here about
what this project is all about and
what it means for us."
Kapwanga started the briefing
by saying that the envisaged marine
phosphate mine would not
affect the whole western coast of
Namibia as some "faceless people"
wanted the nation to believe.
He said before the whole project
got implemented in full, an
EIA would have to be completed.
The EIA would address the concerns
of the fish and diamond
operators so that they co-existed
and complemented one another.
"We are not going to say 'here
we go, to hell with fish operators.'
That is not how things are done.
The EIA will certainly clear all
the concerns that are raised by all
stakeholders," he said.
"This is our coast. We must
protect it. Those who have fishing
quotas should be allowed to
continue with their operations.
Those who want to mine marine
phosphate should also be allowed
to do so. They should coexist
without harming each other.
"It does not make sense to kill
one sector of our resources at the
expense of another resource. The
fishing sector is very important,
but so too is marine phosphate
mining. They should just coexist
and complement each other
Kapwanga said the project
was in line with Vision 2030
and Namibia's Fourth National
Development Plan, NDP4. The
targeted focus areas by NNLP
were manufacturing, agriculture
and infrastructure development,
which were key areas in those
He said government had since
independence encouraged local
beneficiation and value addition
to its natural resources, thus accelerating
creating jobs to reduce poverty
currently rampant in the country.
"We are Namibians. We know
that most of our natural resources
, and to be specific, mineral resources
do not benefit our people
economically. Take diamonds as
an example. Most of it is shipped
out of the country. Only a small
percentage is cut and polished
here," said Kapwanga.
"But if you check the details,
diamond mining is very expensive.
The energy it consumes outstrips
by far the economic value
of the added value products. But
with this marine phosphate mining
plant, the picture is different.
"We will use technology that
is cost-effective, which will allow
us to transmit about 54 MW
to the national grid. We will also
use our own fresh water, while
the rest can be used by the town.
"All these samples can be
tested and verified at our experimentation
plant. This project has
the potential to change the face
of //Karas Region as we know it
today. Phosphate mining is the
Nearly 90 percent of mined
phosphate rock goes into fertilizer
for crop production and animal
feed, which LLNP Director,
Eli Nefussy, said were essential
for life, adding that there was no
substitute for phosphate.
"When we talk about crop production,
food security comes to
mind here. Imagine how many
small and large crop farmers
will increase their yields if they
could access phosphate fertilizer
cheaply, as would be the case
with the phosphate fertilizer we
will produce from here? The potential
is huge," he said.
"China produces its own phosphate
fertilizer but they ban its
export because, given their huge
population, they know the value
of phosphate fertilizer when it
comes to food security."
Governor Basson spoke for
many people in the //Karas Region
when she said that the people
here welcomed any investment
that was EIA blessed, but
the people always wanted to
know what was in there for them.
"I fully understand your briefing
and as long as an investment
like this gets the blessing of the
government, we will support it.
I am the political head of President
Hage Geingob in //Karas
Region," she said.
"I want to know, apart from
job creation, how my people will
benefit directly from this project.
How are the shares owned? The
resource is in this region, and
people want to see how they will
sustainably benefit from this project,"
"How high is the demand for
phosphate fertilizer? How much
of it will be exported to other
region and outside the country?
How will my people share in
the profit? How much of it will
be processed here? How many
people from //Karas Region are
involved?" Elly Shiyagaya from
Seaflower Group of Company
raised concerns about the health
impacts the project might produce
such as contamination and
how such fears might be allayed.
"We live in //Karas Region and
if any pollution emanates from
the plant, we will be the first victims.
Much as we will be the first
victims, we should also know
how we are benefiting from this
Kapwanga assured the participants
that everything would be
LLNP had also signed a memorandum
of understanding with
Namport to jointly develop and
extend the Luderitz Port through
a PPP arrangement.
He said one-third of phosphate
fertilizer mined and processed
here would be for Namibia's
local consumption, while twothirds
would be for export. Leviev
Group of Companies owns
76 percent, government owns 8
percent, National Youth Service
owns two percent, SAMICOR
employees own four percent, and
a broadbased black economic
group Longlife Mining Pty owns
"This is a huge project," said
Nefussy. "The demand for phosphate
fertilizer is very high.
What we will produce here is
just a drop in the sea. Given your
support, this project will change
the way we know Luderitz."