Environmental laws hinder prospecting - report
Navigating Namibia's environmental laws can pose challenges to mining prospectors in Namibia. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Environmental laws hinder prospecting - report

Namibia’s environmental laws have been found to hinder exploration activities, delay project implementation and impede economic growth, a report authored by AfricaMaval and the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) has found.

While the report credits Namibia for its legal framework, it states that prospectors are not allowed full scope to conduct their assessments for mineral wealth.

“A critical component of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process involves independent environmental assessment practitioners who conduct EIA studies on behalf of project proponents. However, both the Environmental Management Act (EMA) and EIA regulations do not include provisions that guarantee unrestricted land access for these independent assessment practitioners conducting assessments for project proponents, particularly mineral companies,” the report said.

Without full access, there are concerns that environmental assessment firms cannot conduct thorough EIAs, the report noted.

“Consequently, some environmental assessment firms or practitioners may face challenges in executing comprehensive EIA processes as mandated by the law. These challenges primarily revolve around difficulties in gaining access to entire areas that need to be assessed and contacting all relevant interested and affected parties for proposed projects,” the report said.



Long-lasting impact

The delay on the part of environmental assessment firms to carry out the EIAs can lead to project delays, leading to a deterrence in investment, the report noted.

“Issues related to personal information (privacy) and the limitations posed by connectivity issues can hinder the full execution of these assessments. Consequently, such challenges can lead to conflicts and delays in project implementation, ultimately deterring investment, limiting job opportunities, and impeding economic growth,” the report said.

The report also noted Namibia’s shortcomings in ensuring mining companies comply with environmental regulations.

This follows the outcome of an assessment conducted by the parliamentary committee on natural resources, which concluded that there is a notable lack of coordination between the ministry of environment and the ministry of mines in fulfilling their respective duties and responsibilities.

“The monitoring of performance and compliance by companies with existing regulations and policies by state competent agencies and authorities is a rare occurrence and largely contingent upon the budgetary or financial constraints faced by the relevant institutions and authorities. This includes bodies such as the environmental commissioner and environmental inspectors, as well as the mining commissioner and mine inspector,” the report said.

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