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Aug 23, 2022

Vulcan to Meet with Government over Proposed Mining Project

An international mining company, Vulcan Materials, is in the process of acquiring several hundred acres of land off the Coastal Road, near Gales Point Manatee, in an area called White Ridge Farms. As we reported on Monday, the villagers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s project proposal in fear of irreversible environmental damage that preparatory work will bring. For example, turning a hill into rocks and stones means explosives will have to be used to blast the hill. And that will kill and displace all the wildlife that live in the area. Today, News Five visited Sugar Hill, one of the main ridges that will be torn down, if Vulcan gets its an Environmental Impact Assessment approved. Here’s their report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

This is Sugar Hill, the main ridge among a series of others that was named by the villagers of Gales Point. Approximately one mile away from the village, it stands majestically above the other elevations in the area. And from atop the ridge, it’s a scenic view of the landscape below. Chairman of Gales Point, Jason Altschaft, has a degree in biology and a keen eye for the various types of plant life that thrive here.

Jason Altschaft

Jason Altschaft, Chairman, Gales Point Village
“You go through several ecosystems, not just one but several and they’re all really intertwined with each other. That web of life is critical and it is untouched here. Just the sheer sound of action is going to chase whatever animals we have back there – pecary, loads of pecary. We do not have to go far to find armadillos or gibnuts. They’re right back there. When the birds come back from their migration to the north, they stop at that mountain. We have about five rivers that feed our lagoon and one of them is right back there. There’s Jenkins Creek, that’s right past where Vulcan is going to go by.”

But what the eyes do not see is what is hidden below. Leroy Andrewin, an older resident of Gales Point, is a self-styled wildlife biologist who has spent decades exploring the area. He says there is a whole different world beneath the confluence of hills.

Leroy Andrewin

Leroy Andrewin, Elder, Gales Point Village

“Those hills back there have a lot of caves and those caves have a lot of artifacts that our government nuh even get to yet, a lot of it. Maya Indian stuff, pottery. Some of these caves back here have a bottom entrance and an entrance from the top. I know this because of what I see when I go in there.”

The chairman believes that a pair of wells that the company dug near the aquifer will also contaminate their water source.

Jason Altschaft
“We have two wellheads that are marked “Vulcan. Do not tamper (with) or you’ll be prosecuted.” Why are they there and who gave them permission to do those wells in the first place? It’s on the White Ridge property but we also have an agreement with White Ridge that goes back to the eighties that this one spot is for us and these aquifers are for us. We just have to share it with the farmers. If they’re drilling, that could cause contaminants to get into our aquifer.”

Altschaft supports research papers by aquatic ecologist, Dr. Ed Boles, who considers the mining project a potential environmental threat. In addition to all that has been said, Andrewin believes that mining in the area will also rob the village of its natural tourism advantage.

Leroy Andrewin
“It’s going to affect tourism bigtime because when the tourists come in here, this is the beauty that they like to see. When I take them sailing in the sailboat, this is the beauty they like to see. All of us have to try to fight to keep this.”


But Vulcan’s Vice President of External Affairs and Community Relations, Jimmy Flemming, who was present for the unsuccessful consultation in Gales Point on Saturday, told the media that the company is going to purchase the land, after which it would apply for an Environmental Impact Assessment. But what if the E.I.A. is not approved?


Jimmy Flemming

Jimmy Flemming, V.P., External Affairs, Community Relations, Vulcan

“I’m paid to think positively, so we’ll take that question after we find out what the result is. It’s an extensive process. It’s something we do at a lot of our locations. The next step is to continue to answer questions and listen to the public here. This was a first step in a very long process. We will be, at some point, beginning the Environmental Impact Assessment and that is a lengthy process and a very, very thorough process that looks at many different aspects of the operation.”


In between Vulcan and its approved EIA are the Ministry of Sustainable Development and the Department of the Environment. C.E.O., Dr. Kenrick Williams


Kenrick Williams

Dr. Kenrick Williams, C.E.O., Ministry of Sustainable Development

“We have received some indication from this company that they would like to do this investment and mining in the Gales Point area – an initial indication. Of course, we have received communication from NGOs, from the community as to their perspective on this investment and that’s a no-go because of the perceived or potential impact”


The ministry has a meeting with representatives of Vulcan on Thursday to begin discussions about the proposed project. Marion Ali for News Five.



Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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