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Jan 8, 2018

Works Minister Says No License for Quarry Operation; Docs Say Differently

The Ministers of Works and Home Affairs were put on the spot in the House of Representatives on Friday by Stann Creek West area representative Rodwell Ferguson. Rene Montero was directly questioned about the explosion in the Santa Cruz area of Santa Elena Town in December, which killed a manager for Tiger Aggregates, the company subcontracted by Belize Roadway Construction to conduct the operation, and injured several others, as well as damaging multiple homes. Specifically, concerning the mining unit’s claim that there was no license to blast in the area, Montero says none was needed. Separately, Police Minister Wilfred Elrington was asked about whether San Ignacio police consulted with area residents prior to evacuating them; he contends that the evacuation is part of the police’s job, but consulting is not. They simply accompanied Tiger Aggregates representatives to inform of the situation.

 

Rodwell Ferguson

Rodwell Ferguson, Area Rep., Stann Creek West

“I’m asking if the Ministry or Department responsible for mines; did he obtain a blasting license from the Department of Mines?”

 

Rene Montero

Rene Montero, Area Rep., Cayo Central

“In this case the mining license was not necessary because it was just a blast to check and see if the material was adequate for the road construction that was under operation.”

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Area Rep., Pickstock

“The role of the Police Department is to provide license to competent persons to possess and discharge explosives. It is not the role of the police to conduct public consultation in respect to the use of a pit or a quarry. However, as mentioned before police officers actively assisted in informing and in evacuating residents within the danger area. Although the export had recommended a two hundred-yard radius as a safe all residence within an eight-hundred yard radius were in fact evacuated.”

 

As we have previously reported, an environmental compliance plan (E.C.P.) was agreed to between the Department of the Environment and Ministry of Works as developer in 2016. The E.C.P. under law is binding and sets out certain terms and conditions for carrying out the project without severe environmental degradation. In section three-point-three concerning earth movement activities, the Ministry of Works is advised to obtain appropriate licenses and permits from the Mining Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources. C.E.O. in the Ministry Sharon Ramclam-Young indicated in December that a fine will be imposed for illegal mining under the Mines and Minerals Act but it is still not clear whether it will be Belize Roadway or Tiger Aggregates who must pay up.

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