Friday, February 23 2018 | NEW ERA 10 FEATURE 11 Friday, March 2 2018| NEW ERA Lahja Nashuuta Windhoek Previously booming mining towns are more often than not a shell of their glory days after they are reduced to ghost towns once the minerals have been depleted, leaving deep, and unsightly craters on the surface of the earth. While it is not new, the onus is on mine owners to rehabilitate the environment once the mineral resources at a working mine are exhausted, or operations are no longer profitable. The beneficiation process, unfortunately, is conducted with little or no regard for the environment. A recent visit to the Dorob National Park at Arandis in the Erongo Region revealed that miners did not demolish their structures nor did they remove debris from the mining site at the closure of the mine. Unlike in countries such as Canada where efforts are made to restore the ecosystem and turn it to productivity either for irrigation or farming, at Dorob Mine there are no signs of reclamation, remediation, rehabilitation or restoration. It seems there was no clean up of contaminants at this mining site, as the pre-existing tailings storage facilities, capping tailings and waste rock piles with clean topsoil are still visible. “That’s a very dangerous place we always refrain from entering as there are still metals lying on the ground and other harmful chemicals that might cause sickness,” said one Dorob resident. According to the audit report on Managing of Pollution and Environment Rehabilitation of Mining Sites compiled by the Office of the Auditor General during the 2015/16 financial year, there are 157 abandoned mining sites in the country. These pose environmental problems such as collapsed structures, and contamination of groundwater and soil that subsequently have effects on livestock and human health. The report further indicated that the State tasked the Directorate of Geological Survey within the Ministry of Mines and Energy as well as Ministry of Environment and Tourism to effectively monitor pollution and environmental rehabilitation at mining sites. However, none of the old mines have been rehabilitated and not enough environmental monitoring and inspection have been done at active mines since 2004. Besides, small-scale miners have also been mining illegally without any valid Environment Clearance Certificates, which is a major prerequisite for one to acquire a mining licence, as per the Environment Management Act 2007. Some mines were granted mining licences without providing a mine closure plan and financial mechanisms for environmental rehabilitation and aftercare. The Office of the Auditor General found that all sand miners who received permits from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry were operating without environmental clearance certificates. As a result, the riverbeds got polluted and mining pits were not rehabilitated when mining operations ceased, which encouraged the dumping of waste into riverbeds. “All active mines visited, except Rossing Uranium Mine and Ohorongo cement and factory, did not submit their Abandoned mines pose environmental hazard Bruised earth... This unsightly hole about 1,000 metre deep at the abandoned Klein-Aub Mine, is situated about 90 kilometres southwest of Rehoboth in the Hardap Region. It poses a risk to both humans and animals. (Right) Sand that was dug out and deposited near a residential area in Klein-Aub when the mine was still operational. The mine was used from 1964 until 1987. In 2010, one of the mining tunnels collapsed, leaving a 50-metre long hole. Photos: Nampa final mine closure plans together with a funding mechanism to the Ministry of Mines and Energy. As a result, mineral right holders leave mining sites un-rehabilitated,” further read the auditors’ report. The Environmental Management Act provides for the assessment and control of activities, which may have significant effects on the environment. This is done through applications for environmental clearance. This application requires the submission of environmental assessment reports, which include a scoping report and an environmental impact assessment report. The two reports identify and assess the impact of a planned activity on the environment and also inform the proponent’s environmental management plan, which seeks to ensure the timely identification and continuous management of environmental risk through appropriate measures. Although the environmental rehabilitation, according to the Environment Act, is based on the principle of “polluter pays”, the audit found that the Ministry of Mines and Energy did not investigate the establishment of financial mechanisms for the environmental rehabilitation and aftercare. As a result, mining licences are issued without mineral right holders providing final mine closure plans together with funding mechanisms, a practice that has resulted in some mines liquidating and leaving the State to foot the bill for the clean-up. In response to this issue, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said the ability to monitor and enforce compliance with the Act through inspections is constrained by lack of resources and inadequate manpower. Through the report on the implementation of the Environment Act of 2007 of the 2016/17 financial year, Shifeta indicated that sand mining continues to be a major challenge. He said his ministry is working with traditional authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Ministry of Mines and Energy to address this issue. He however said his ministry has recorded a 24 percent increase in applications for environmental clearance from 466 applications in 2015/16 to 578 in the 2016/17 financial year. He said the majority of the applications for environmental clearance come from private proponents. However, the number of public institutions applying for environment clearance increased from 138 in 2015/2016 to 182 in the 2016/17 financial year. Shifeta said there are still some institutions not in compliance with the Act in terms of applying for environmental clearance certificates, particularly regarding resource removal, including natural living resources as per Section 27(2) (c).
Friday, March 2 2018 | NEW ERA 11 Rapper Ees unrepentant on Independence Day clean-up call Namibian musician Eric Sell, known by his ardent fans as Ees, sparked quite a reaction after he released a video last week in which he implored government to channel money meant for this year’s 28 th Independence Day celebrations towards a nationwide clean-up campaign. Ees, speaking to Managing Editor Toivo Ndjebela this week, clarified that contrary to popular belief, he did not call for the scrapping of this year’s Independence Day celebrations, but that the day should be celebrated differently – by cleaning up litter and garbage engulfing the country’s towns. Toivo Ndjebela (TN): What motivated your call that the Independence Day celebrations for this year be dedicated to cleaning? Eric Sell (ES): An anonymous “SMS of the Day” I saw in a [The Namibian] newspaper inspired me to produce the video. However, the concept has been used on multiple occasions, and I am convinced that Namibia is ready to also inspire its people and go in a similar direction as Tanzania that did the same. TN: Your video has sparked mixed reactions – with some people fully in support of your call while others rebuked it. What’s your take particularly on the criticism? ES: Receiving negative reactions is never a fun experience, especially when the intention was positive. The video sparked a healthy debate, even though many negative remarks focused more on my skin colour and background than my positive and motivational message. The video got over 130,000 views in two days and over 10,000 people shared and liked it – spreading the message to their friends and family to start a positive movement of helping the needy, planting trees and cleaning up the country. It would be disrespectful to them if I only focused my attention on a few negative comments. TN: Having the benefit of hindsight now, would you still post this message if you had another chance to do so? ES: Yes-ja, I would still post the video exactly the same way. That is the nicest thing when you speak from the bottom of your heart – there is no need for you to hide because I truly wish for Namibia to become even more prosperous and I want all Namibians to benefit. TN: One of the questions asked is ‘why now’? In other words, how’s this year different from any other, insofar as the need to clean up is concerned? ES: Well, I have a very good stance to judge as I am in and out of the country a lot, and to see how some things are slowly getting worse – more litter everywhere, more little begging children on the streets and disease outbreaks. Plus, Namibia is almost 28 years old which, in human life, that is a grown-up. So now I felt it’s time to also talk about grown-up things and move forward together. TN: Some people suggested that you use your position, as a respected public figure, to help convince Germany to pay reparations for genocide committed in Namibia. What’s your comment on that? ES: I am using my platform on a daily basis to make Namibia a better place and promote Namibia to the maximum. Last month’s video that I did against Trump calling our African countries shitholes reached millions of people worldwide, with a positive promotion video about how great Namibia is. Yes, Namibia has many issues and I am slowly but surely working on addressing them one by one. It’s very unfortunate that those few critics are not inspired by the positive message behind my motivational video, but have very racist-like tendencies of only focusing on my skin colour and my German roots. I am Namibian like every other Namibian, born and bred. TN: As a Namibian of German extraction, what are your general views on the issue of genocide and do you believe Namibia has a genuine demand for an official apology and reparations? ES: I fully acknowledge the genocide that happened about 120 years ago by the German Schutztruppe against Ovaherero and Nama people and I find it totally inhumane what happened. Namibia definitely needs a full apology by Germany for what happened in the past. As far as I know, Germany is already since many years one of the biggest financial supporters of Namibia. TN: As a German-speaking Namibian, how did you feel when the Reiterdenkmal, a revered monument within your community, was de-proclaimed as a national monument and removed in 2013? ES: I am not attached to monuments too much and also don’t have any hard feelings that the Reiterdenkmal is not there anymore. I just didn’t like the way it was removed, with that overnight action of removing it on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December, with no option for the media to make photos or videos. That felt a bit weird. TN: In what way do you use your musical talent to help build trust and race relations in Namibia, given our country’s legacy of racism and segregation? ES: In every way. I feel like I am the artist in Namibia that has done the most collaborations in my last 13 released albums. Sadly, I’m also one of the few that wave the national flag, as I do almost everywhere I perform in Namibia or on international stages. The content of Eric Sell my lyrics consist of positivity and togetherness – the list goes on. It’s just an honour to do exactly that – as I feel so proud doing that. TN: Your videos on Donald Trump, in collaboration with Gondwana, were big hits. What’s the idea behind them? ES: There is basically only one main objective behind it and that is to promote Namibia in a way that the world gets to best know this DEATH & MEMOMRIAL SERVICE NOTICE It is with great sorrow that, we the family would like to inform you about the passing of our son; brother; cousin and uncle. Visitory Lawanifwa Weyulu *20.05.1989 | +28.02.2018 Memorial Service: 03 March 2018, 16h00 Hosiana Parish, Katutura Please contact: Ms Weyulu 0811487228 Mrs Haukongo 0812810631 Toivo Ndjebela beautiful country. The other thing is to expose Trump as the racist and idiot that he is. TN: Musically, what are you currently working on? Any album coming soon or major collaborations? ES: Well, since the music industry has changed a lot – I mainly am only working on singles since the last few years. Definitely one can always expect some great collabos. I’m currently working on a track with Qonja (Samuele) at the moment. TN: Anything you would like to add? ES: I think we should always celebrate our Namibian independence and honour the people that sacrificed their lives for the freedom we have today. One of the many ways to show your respect to our freedom fighters is to try to continuously improve the wellbeing of our country and keeping it clean.