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The Ministry of Land and Environment will be increasing the value of bonds required for the restoration of mines.
Minister of Land and Environment, Dean Peart, who made the announcement in his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House yesterday, said the existing amount of $40,000 to $150,000 was unrealistic and inadequate and “I have given instructions that with immediate effect, a more realistic bond must be put in place, especially in rivers”.
In addition, he said that discussions were being held with the Solicitor General’s office to formulate a plan to utilize interest accrued on bonds to rectify some of the damage done and to restore some mined-out areas.
Mr. Peart said the move was being undertaken, as it would be impossible to charge quarry operators the value of the bonds required.
“The Ministry’s intention is to position the mining industry to realize its full potential to contribute to the nation (in terms of) economic development,” Mr. Peart told the House, adding, “it is within this context that we will be issuing mining licenses for longer periods to facilitate the kinds of investments required in this industry”.
The Minister further announced that the Mining Division of the Ministry had completed amendments to the mining regulations, which saw the introduction of a provision that mined-out lands be restored no later than three years after the completion of mining operations in any area.
Meanwhile, the penalty for failure to restore a pit within the stipulated time period was increased from US$4500 per acre to US$25,000 per hectare, plus an additional charge of US$2500 for each year during which the land remained unrestored.
In addition, royalty payable on non-bauxite minerals was increased from 3.5 per cent to five per cent and an interest charge of 15 per cent per annum introduced for later payments.