Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Auditor-General Junias Kandjeke has discovered that 62 percent – eight out of 12 – of the permits issued to mineral rights holders operating in the //Karas and Erongo Regions have expired. The Department of Water Affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry issues five-year Waste Effluent Disposal Exemption Permits (WEDEP) and the renewal should be done within three months before expiry. At the time of the audit, it was found that the directorate did not adequately ensure that mineral rights holders have valid WEDEP. These mines were also found to be in contravention of the Environmental Management Act of 2007, as they are disposing waste into the environment. These revelations are contained in the 2011/12-2014/2015 financial reports regarding the Monitoring of Pollution and Environmental Rehabilitation of Mining Sites within the Ministry of Mines and Energy and that of Environment and Tourism that Kandjeke audited. Kandjeke said, as a result, the non-renewal of permits could increase the rate of non-compliance, which could lead to contamination of water resources because the water quality is not tested to ensure compliance to Namibian water quality standards. Some of those found to be contravening the Environmental Management Act of 2007 include Namdeb, Elizabeth Bay Diamond Mine, Rossing Uranium Mine, Swakop Uranium, Valencia Uranium Mine. Otjihase and Matchless that both mine copper in Khomas Region have no permits at all. The audit also found that the rivers in the vicinity of these mines are polluted, as confirmed by the report of the Directorate of Geological Survey in the Ministry of Mines and Energy. “This is due to a lack of monitoring by the Department of Water Affairs,” Kandjeke noted. Some of the miners found with valid mining permits include Skorpion Zinc, Rosh Pinah Corporation, Walvis Bay Salt Refinery/Salt & Chemicals and Langer Heinrich Uranium. Rossing Uranium also had one valid permit although the other one had expired. The audit further uncovered that the Directorate of Mines has not been adequately monitoring mining sites of mineral rights holders. At the time of the audit, Matchless and Otjihase, Otjozondu Manganese, Stone Africa Granite as well as Ysterpitz Blue Lace mines within the Khomas, Otjozondjupa, Erongo and //Karas Regions, respectively, did not report oil spills and remedied such spillage on the environment. “As a result, oil spills may cause long-term irreparable damage to the environment,” Kandjeke said. The audit also found that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism does not identify the Mines and Energy Ministry as an organ of state mandated to regulate mining and quarry operations, which might have an impact on the environment, nor was the mines ministry published in the government gazette, in accordance with Sub-section 1 of Section 24 of the Environmental Act. Therefore, Kandjeke said, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism could not hold the mines ministry liable for environmental damage caused by the mineral rights holders. The audit also found out that the mines ministry has not amended the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act, 1992, as stated in the Minerals policy of 2002. As a result, Kandjeke said the ministry might not effectively regulate some mining activities such as sand mining and small-scale miners. However, the ministry said the amendment process of the Act is an ongoing exercise, which is at an advanced stage and should not be rushed as they are gaining insightful information during the process. Physical observations conducted indicated non-compliance to the provisions of their Environmental Management Plans except Ohorongo Cement & Factory, B2Gold and Namdeb Orange River mines. Written notices were also not served to the mines ministry to remedy non-compliance such as general waste mixed with hazardous waste, oil containers not safely stored, fuel spillage at fuel bays and oil drums leaking into the environment. As a result, he noted, mineral rights holders continue to pollute the environment. The environment ministry could also not provide assurance that small-scale miners operated with valid environmental clearance certificates during the period under review. This means such miners could be mining illegally without environmental clearance certificates.
2017-09-29 09:40:50 11 months ago