Environmental impacts of prospecting and mining in Namibian national parks : implications for legislative compliance
Namibia’s environmental legislation is fragmented and outdated, and in particular mining and prospecting in parks of Namibia is poorly legislated. This problem was analysed with the Skeleton Coast Park being chosen as the study region, as it was considered to be a representative example for parks in Namibia. The Skeleton Coast Park offers both pre-mining and post-mining characteristics; therefore affording the possibility to ascertain the environmental impacts that mining and prospecting have on the environment. The aims of the study were to illustrate the gaps in legislation in regard to mining and prospecting in parks of Namibia and to provide management guidelines for mining and prospecting in these parks. Objectives of this study included gathering baseline environmental information for the Skeleton Coast Park; creating and analysing a spatial database for the occurrence and type of current prospecting and mining activities in the Skeleton Coast Park; analysing and documenting techniques currently practiced for prospecting and mining; and identifying shortcomings in legislation and policy guidelines regulating these activities. The study results highlight the extraordinary sensitivity and uniqueness of the natural environment in terms of physiography, ecological functioning and vulnerability to human interference of the life forms occurring here. Results confirm that mining and prospecting techniques can have detrimental environmental effects given the poor management practices recorded. Also, prospecting in the Skeleton Coast Park indicates no lucrative source of diamonds. Even though currently the entire coast line is given out to Exclusive Prospecting Licences, results do not indicate that any company is undertaking serious active prospecting. Regarding regulation it is evident that new, more encompassing legislation has been drafted, but that the promulgation of the legislation is hampered by the non-finalisation of the process. Several new draft bills currently in place contradict each other and need proper alignment.