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Israeli investment company Leviev Group (LGC) has plans to begin mining phosphate off Namibia's coast by 2018

namibia skeleton coast wikimediaLGC plans to mine phosphate off the Namibian coast by 2018. (Image source: Skeleton Coast/Wikimedia Commons)

LGC is planning to demonstrate a processing plant at the port of Luderitz — a harbour town in southwest Namibia. The project is being developed by LGC's subsidiary, LL Namibia Phosphates, said the company.

Phosphate is a major crop nutrient, along with potash and nitrogen. Reports have stated that environmental concerns have led the Namibian government to impose an 18-month freeze on new permits for marine mining. On the other hand, deep sea mining has opened new avenues as technology has paved the way for new resources that could replace depleted land mines.

Erez Mishal, vice president of business development and operations at LGC, said, ”Through a demonstration, we would address environmental concerns, allow full-scale construction to proceed so production can begin in 2018, and maybe even obtain a licence.”

However, the Namibian cabinet had approved a recommendation in September 2013 that a moratorium on issuing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) clearance certificates on bulk seabed mining — for industrial minerals, base and rare metals — in Namibian waters, be in place for a minimum of three years, stated reports.

LGC has estimated that it can mine two million tonnes of phosphate rock per year, at a depth of 300 metres.

The company added that it would provide finances worth US$20mn in the preliminary stages, and then seek an industry partner for complete development that would cost US$800mn. LGC is touting the project as offering the lowest phosphate rock production costs in the world at a projected US$16.61 a tonne, supported by an acid-based processing technique that reduces the need to remove impurities first from the rock, added reports.