Energy Ministry to allocate 3% of T&T’s land for mining

By Carla Bridglal

Three per cent of the total land area of Trinidad and Tobago will be designated as mining zones. 

The Ministry of Energy held its first public consultation on its Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for the quarrying industry yesterday at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, as it set out 35 aggregate mining zones and a provisional one for tar sands, in accordance with the Mining Act 2000.

The establishment of these zones will govern the granting of licences to quarry operators.

Under the Act, no licence shall be granted to any person to operate a mine or to mine within a specified area unless such a mine or mining is located within a mining zone.

“There have been concerns about the impact of the quarry sector on the environment...these zones will greatly simplify the process for the granting of quarrying licences. These zones will also establish the current permitted reserves and the predicted demand over a 25-year period,” said Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine. 

The zones will be as limited in number as possible and will include as many of the current licensed quarries as possible. The ministry has also mandated that all licensed quarries erect identification signage. Those that fail to comply will face suspension of licences. 

“I intend to take action in early January...all licensed quarry operators take the Christmas period to put your houses in order,” Ramnarine added. 

The SEIA was conducted by UK-based GWP Consultants LLC. The process started last January and was completed in nine months, just in time for the close of the financial year 2013. 

Some of the outcomes of the survey include: 

• High-quality imagery and 3D survey information that can be made available to operators applying for licences and CECs and used as a basis for monitoring and inventory;

• A more robust database of quarries and pits in Trinidad and Tobago;

• Institutional strengthening and facilitation of cooperation between ministries and agencies who have a stake in minerals planning and regulation;

• An emerging framework for better regulation of the industry in the future and planning for future needs.

The SEIA comprises three main elements—parameters; thresholds and requirements.

These are intended to help indicate distances from sensitive receptors—that is, environmental reserves; cultural sites and residential areas; schedule assessments that must be done before CECs can be issued and licences applied for, and indicate basic operator and application process requirements.                   —See Page 9 

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