Activities undertaken during marine mining are regulated by legislation dispersed through several Government Acts and Regulations. Several South African acts applicable in Namibia have not been altered since Namibia obtained independence in 1991. However, in South Africa some of these (e.g. the Water Act) have been revised while others (e.g. the National Monuments Act) are in the process of revision. Pertinent statutory legislation relevant to marine mining in Namibia is listed below:
Pollution at Sea
Sea Fisheries Act 29 of 1992 – regulates pollution at sea and controls disposal of fish and household waste from ships; disturbance of rock lobsters marine invertebrates and aquatic plants, and restricts areas of seabed damage
Prevention and Combating of Pollution of the Sea by Oil Amendment 24 of 1991 – regulates oil pollution from ships at sea
1973 Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) – controls all waste disposal at sea (oil, hazardous waste, sewage and solid waste)
Water Act 54 of 1956 – controls tailings discharges and sea and fresh water pollution on land
Disturbance or Damage to Natural and Cultural Resources
National Monuments Act 28 of 1969 – controls disturbance of shipwrecks and archaeological deposits, such as shell middens and cave contents
Sea Birds and Seals Protection Act 46 of 1973 – controls disturbance of sea birds and seals on islands
United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity – regulates conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components, and equitable share of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Namibian Ports Authority Act 2 of 1994 – gives Namport the responsibility of protecting the environment within the harbour area
Maritime Notice No 4 of 1994 – provides rules and procedures for collecting garbage in Namibian Waters.
a) Diamond Industry Protection Act 17 of 1939 as amended – tables laws relating to regulation, control, development and protection of the diamond industry in Namibia and illegal entry into prohibited areas. This act will soon be replaced by the New Diamond Bill to be tabled in March 1999.
Labour Act 6 of 1992 –provides conditions of employment for employees of Namibian companies and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Parts of this Act are soon to be repealed and replaced by the Mine Health and Safety Regulations to be tabled as an amendment of the Minerals Act, 1992.
Immigration Control Act 7 of 1993 – regulates employment and issuance of work permits and obliges employers to give job priority to Namibians.
5.3.4 Environmental Management Plan Reports (EMPRs)
Namibian legislation requires that all new applicants for mining licences prepare an Environmental Management Plan. No specific guidelines exist for compiling EMPRs, and these are usually assessed according to the international literature and according to the specific programme proposed by the Mining Company. Since South African consultants compile most of the EMPRs, the South African EMPR guidelines (section 5.2.5) are usually followed.
In the search for and extraction of ore bodies, the diamond mining industry by its very nature exploits the environment. Large amounts of sediment need to be removed and processed, stripping areas and producing tailings. These operations cause both positive and negative impacts on the Benguela Current marine ecosystem, and are the source of conflict with industries utilizing coincident resources.
To avoid these issues becoming a major political concern, and in keeping with the philosophy of Integrated Environmental Management adopted worldwide, a three stage process has generally been followed by the mining industry. Firstly, issues or impacts of major concern to the public, government authorities and conservation bodies are identified during scoping studies. Secondly, specialist or review studies are commissioned and the scale and extent of impacts resulting from the mining activities examined through strategic environmental impact assessments. Finally, in situations where the scale or intensity of the impact is considered to be significant, mitigation measures designed to minimize negative and maximize positive impacts on the environment are recommended. Collectively, this process leads to an Environmental Management Programme (or Plan), which is a dynamic set of documents updated as new mining techniques are employed and/or new information becomes available. Most of the larger diamond mining companies and many of the smaller operators already have, or are in the process of drawing up Environmental Management Plans.
The major issues that have been identified in the compilation of EMPs, and a summary of the pertinent research undertaken and mitigation measures adopted by the industry are outlined in this section and are summarized in Table 4.
6.2 Socio-economic Environment – Positive Impacts
6.2.1 Creation of Revenue and Employment
South Africa has 66 registered diamond mining concerns (excluding about 1500 registered alluvial diggers), 49 of which produced rough diamonds in 1996 and 18 of which were from marine concessions. Production statistics (Source: Diamond Enquiry) for the last 10 years for South Africa as a whole indicate a fairly stable, but slightly increasing, level of annual diamond production at around 10 million carats. Diamond production from kimberlite sources has remained constant, accounting for 89% of diamond production, but there has been a shift over the last 4 years from alluvial to marine diamond production. Alluvial diamond production declined by 245 000 carats on average between the period 1987-1993 and the period 1994-1997, but increased in 1997 due to higher output at De Beers Namaqualand (DBNM) and some Trans Hex mines. In contrast, with the onset of deep-sea mining in 1991, annual average carat production for marine mining increased from 53 885 for the period 1987-1990 to an average of 147 833 for 1991-1993. Marine diamond production statistics show a decline since 1994, and particularly in 1995, as a result of reduced output from Alexkor’s beach and marine sources. Marine mining at present contributes about 10% of South Africa’s total diamond production.
Diamond revenues, levied through income tax on diamonds, mining leases, mining rights and diamond export duties, are put into the Central Revenue Fund from where they are allocated to various budgets by the Government. The proportional contribution of diamond revenues to overall tax revenue collections has declined over the last 17 years, and the diamond taxation system is under review by the Katz Commission.
Statistics for diamond mining in 1997 indicated that 473 male employees worked at sea, compared to a total diamond mining workforce of about 10 000 males and 900 females (Minerals Bureau 1997 statistics), providing roughly 54% to the Gross Geographic Product (down from 80% in the 1970s) and 66% of employment in the Namaqualand region. Quantifying financial input into local economies from diamond mining is very difficult as a result of the wide range of multiplier effects. Combined male and female earnings for all diamond mining in 1997 totalled almost R553.5 million, however, it is unclear what proportion of this may have entered the local economy since many of the higher income employees live outside the region.
As in South Africa, Namibian onshore diamond mining is winding down and the future lies in offshore diamond mining. In 1996, beach and marine mining yielded 43% of total diamond production (compared to 10% in South Africa), estimated at 1.49 million carats. The diamond mining contribution to GDP was valued at N$2.1 million in 1997. As in South Africa, diamond mining revenues go to Namibia’s central government funds.
Namdeb is the biggest taxpayer, exporter and private sector employer in Namibia. To prolong the life of its onshore activities, Namdeb invested in new dredge mining techniques in 1997 that led to increased production levels. Namdeb produces approximately 1.3 million carats of which its deep-water operator, De Beers Marine, contributes 35%. In contrast, ODM produced just over 58 000 carats in Namibia in 1997.
In 1993, 4500 workers (1% of Namibia’s workforce) were employed by Namdeb at its diamond mines in the Sperrgebiet. The majority of low-skilled employees originate from the northern regions of Namibia and send remittances to families back home. At rough estimate, a minimum of 800 people is employed at sea – excluding shore-based operations.
In 1971 Angola, through formal production channels, produced 2.4 million carats, although production subsequently declined due to civil war and instability. The 1991 cease-fire led to an influx of thousands of “garimpeiros” (illegal diamond miners) to diamond fields, which has lead to widespread uncontrolled digging and smuggling. Estimates suggest that over 50% of the Angolan Government total potential revenue from alluvial diamonds has been lost to smugglers. In 1994 revised legislation was passed to provide order to the diamond industry, and in particular to provide for greater security. The new law gives ENDIAMA, the state mining company which has the sole rights for prospecting, mining and marketing of diamonds in Angola, powers of negotiation to attract foreign investors in new mining ventures either in joint ventures with Endiama or as sole investors.
As a result, production has since increased to 3.7 million carats in 1996 contributing roughly 9% to Angola’s GDP, with most production from onshore mining. Significant interest has been shown in Angola’s diamond resources since they are known to be of particularly high quality. De Beers and ODM both have agreements with ENDIAMA to mine onshore diamonds. De Beers plans to spend $75 million on prospecting three prospects covering 63 000 km2 in Quela, Mavinga and Lunda Norte. De Beers has indicated its commitment to ensuring the stability of the diamond mining industry in Angola by investing in a 12-storey diamond sorting building in Luanda.
No authorised offshore prospecting and mining has been undertaken in Angola to date, although companies, such as De Beers, have been negotiating for rights with the Angolan Government for some years.
Table 2. Summary of total diamond production, contribution by marine and beach mining and total contribution by diamond mining to GDP for South Africa, Namibia and Angola.