Namibia in Talks to Deepen Luderitz Port for Phosphate Shipments

Namibia is in talks with private investors about deepening Luderitz port to handle vessels capable of shipping phosphate from marine desposits off the southern African country.

“We are looking at developing it as a deep water port to handle larger vessels,” Namibia Ports Authority Chief Executive Officer Bisey Uirab said yesterday in an interview in Windhoek, the capital. “We are in discussions with some mining companies and the potential for phosphate mining makes economic sense for us to develop the port.”

While the port’s 8.15-meter (26.7-foot) depth is limited by rock, larger vessels would require a draft of as deep as 18 meters, Uirab said, adding that it doesn’t make economic sense to transport goods from southern Namibia to Walvis Bay.

Deepening Luderitz would allow Namibia’s second-biggest port to ship mineral exports from the south of the country and from South Africa’s Northern Cape province. It would cost “several billion” Namibian dollars, said Uirab. While Namibia imposed an 18-month moratorium on marine phosphate mining, pending an environmental study, the ban doesn’t include exploration, suggesting the government may allow mining from next year, the nation’s Chamber of Mines said yesterday.

Vedanta Resources Plc’s Skorpion zinc mine and refinery and Glencore Plc’s Rosh Pinah zinc and lead mine currently export through Luderitz.