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Aug 26, 2022

Gales Point Village Council Prepares Response to Vulcan

A great portion of this week’s news focused on Vulcan Materials Company and the proposed mining project about a mile away from Gales Point Manatee Village. Last weekend, Vulcan held consultations with the villagers, but while Vulcan spokesperson, Jimmy Flemming said a lot of the people were interested in economic opportunities, outwardly, the vast majority opposed the project. But since then, there have been a few updates. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The Gales Point Village Council will meet tonight to respond to a letter that Vulcan Materials Company sent them earlier this week. Chairman of Gales Point, Jason Altschaft told News Five today that the council will write a letter that represents the pulse of the majority. Vulcan’s letter to the council offers more jobs to collect additional samples from the testing site on the White Ridge Farms where the company wants to conduct the mining activities. It informs that, as of this week, the next step for the company is to begin work.  This means that there would be jobs for villagers, who would receive twice the existing minimum wage for their labour. Those jobs had become available a year ago when the testing had first begun at the site. Through those economic opportunities, about thirty men were gainfully employed by the company to do manual labour. But when we spoke with one of those labourers following the consultation last Saturday, he revealed that even some of his co-workers had turned against the project.


Lloyd Andrewin

Lloyd Andrewin, Resident, Gales Point Village (File, August 22, 2022)

“We were drilling and getting samples from the hill and I was supervising that project there. At least thirty people were working and everyone was satisfied but suddenly some people change.”


The villagers explained that they are against the project because of the irreversible environment impact that it will have particularly to the plant and wildlife that co-inhabit the hills that would be destroyed if the project is carried out. At least two dozen conservation groups and concerned citizens have forwarded written objections against the project in the form of letters to the government. Supporting those letters is a research paper done by aquatic ecologist, Dr. Ed Boles. He believes that the project would also have damning environmental effects on the area, which sits adjacent to the Gales Point Wildlife Sanctuary – an ecological site that includes unexcavated Maya temples, creeks, caves, and lagoons. Senator Janelle Chanona, who is the Vice President for OCEANA in Belize, has a few questions of her own about the project.


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, V.P., OCEANA, Belize

“Do we want a mining port and a mining operation at that location? Is it a given that because they have bought private lands that there is this immediate – I don’t want to say dictate – but because they want it, it will happen? I recall someone saying once that because they owned an entire caye they wanted to create their own country, and we told them plain and straight that doesn’t work here. That was a very light-hearted response, if you will, but I do think it does correlate that no matter how the ownership came about and who owns it, this is still Belize and collectively we all need to determine happens where.”


The U.S. Embassy, on behalf of Vulcan, last week reportedly requested a meeting between representatives of the company and the government. That meeting took place on Thursday, but C.E.O. in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Dr. Kenrick Williams, informed us today that there is no update following that discussion. The Ministry of Natural Resources, with responsibility for mining, has also come out strongly against the project and has indicated that Vulcan’s exploration permit expires in November. But the verdict on whether Vulcan will or will not get approval for its project is still a ways off. The company has expressed its intent to purchase White Ridge Farms and to apply for an Environmental Impact Assessment over the next two years. 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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