Text by Willie Olivier
The Chamber of Mines of Namibia has launched the “Best Practice Guide – Environmental Principles for Mining in Namibia.”
Speaking at the Mining Expo and Conference, held in Windhoek on 8 and 9 May 2019, Environmental and Social Committee Chairperson, Charles Loots, said the guide is “… a milestone in improving operational practices in Namibia and will add enormous value to the sector.”
Loots, who is also General Manager of B2Gold Namibia, said the need for a best practice guide was one of the first key issues identified when it was decided in 2016 to separate the Health, Safety and Environmental Committee into two entities.
“Clearly there existed an opportunity for Namibian specific guidance for environmental specialists. Although such guides exist internationally, no such resource was available specific to Namibia and its different regions,” he said. Loots pointed out that although slope rehabilitation and revegetation of mines in Western Australia might seem similar to Namibia they are completely different as a result of dissimilar factors such as wind patterns, plant species, soil types and seasons.
“The project became a unique and very laudable collaboration between the Chamber of Mines, the Namibian Chamber of Environment, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the private sector,” Loots explained. The lead consultant responsible for the coordination and creation of the guide was a local company, the Environmental Compliance Consultancy. “… even in global terms it’s extremely rare to have such a multi-faceted and powerful partnership of this nature …, Loots said”
The focus of the guide is on environmental issues and practical approaches relating to the various stages of the mining cycle – from exploration, projects and construction, to mining and processing, care and maintenance and closure and rehabilitation.
The improvement of environmental practices is the central concept of the guide. In this regard, Loots said, “This does not necessarily mean additional costs for mining operations. On the contrary, it can in fact, mean quite the opposite. Attention to good environmental practices is almost always indicative of businesses that are well run, and certainly the same can be said for Health and Safety.”
The 48-page guide is divided into five sections dealing with: Establishing a Best Practice Guide for Mining, Sustainability, Regulating Authorities and Supporting Institutions, Navigating Approvals and Reporting. It is illustrated with numerous photographs, tables and diagrams.
The guide is a joint publication of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia (CoM), the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), the government and members of the mining industry. It is available electronically from the websites of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia