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  • Both Houses of Parliament have emphasised that the management of quarries must be improved and that penalties for illicit quarrying will be increased.
  • This follows the Senate’s nod, on May 1, of the legislation which will govern the process - An Act to Amend the Quarries Control Act.
  • The amendments also seek to increase the penalties for illicit extraction of quarry material or quarry mineral.

Both Houses of Parliament have emphasised that the management of quarries must be improved and that penalties for illicit quarrying will be increased.

This follows the Senate’s nod, on May 1, of the legislation which will govern the process – An Act to Amend the Quarries Control Act. The Bill was also passed in the House of Representatives at its sitting on October 28, 2014.

Piloted by Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, the amendments also seek to increase the penalties for illicit extraction of quarry material or quarry mineral, by the use of motorised equipment, such as extractors and draglines; and require quarry operators to issue receipts and dispatch vouchers for material or mineral removed from quarries.

They also require persons transporting or purchasing quarry material to show proof of purchase upon request, and those employed in the management of certain quarries to be certified by the Commissioner, after satisfactorily completing a prescribed course of study.

The fine for operating a quarry without a licence has been increased from $30,000 up to a maximum of $1 million, and from $50,000 to a maximum of $2 million for a second or subsequent offence.

In his contribution to the debate, Senator Lambert Brown said the amendments will provide realistic penalties for breaches in the sector, adding that illicit quarrying has highlighted the need for more effective regulation of the industry.

He cited several cases in which sand was removed from beaches and where no one was held accountable for the acts. “This is big business, but illegal business and this is why we need this legislation…I am looking forward to the vigorous enforcement of this legislation,” he said.

Opposition Senator, Arthur Williams, noted that this comprehensive review of the legislation will seek to address most of the issues that affect the sector. He highlighted that only minor changes were made to the Act over the years.

In his remarks, Opposition Senator, Christopher Tufton, said the amendments will address a holistic safeguard to minimise abuse in the sector. “It seeks to establish a level of traceability for not just those who are directly involved in mining or quarrying, but (also) those involved in the process of moving the product from its original location through to its final usage,” he said.

Closing the debate, Senator Golding said the amendments will address various areas within the sector.

Addressing one of the concerns put forward by Senator Williams, he said clause 5a, which deals with a buffer zone, will give landowners an additional right to protect their land from “quarrying too close.” The clause speaks to the imposition of a buffer zone of 15 metres between the land on which the quarry is located and adjoining properties.