Prospecting rights over huge areas of SA’s continental shelf have been granted to three companies searching for phosphate. It could signal the beginning of a destructive mining process that will grind up the seabed and spew sediment into the water column as liquid "dust". This would pose a threat to ocean ecosystems, fish and fisheries. The licences cover 150,000km² in SA’s western and southern exclusive economic zone and were awarded to Green Flash Trading 251, Green Flash Trading 257 and Diamond Fields International by the Department of Mineral Resources. Studies commissioned by the Safeguard our Seabed Coalition (SOSC) of nongovernmental organisations, has warned marine phosphate mining "would have severe and irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihood and food security benefits sustained by our fishing industry". Bulk marine sediment mining uses a suction hopper dredge, which gouges the sediment to a depth of 3m. Its dredge head, which is about 11m wide with cutting te...

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