Commissioner of Mines in the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Clinton Thompson, is urging quarry operators to conform to the conditions of their licences or risk having them suspended or revoked.
He said that they may also be faced with increased fines, once the new amendments to the operating procedures are initiated.
“It is important for you (operators) and the workers to familiarise yourselves with the conditions under which you should operate,” Mr. Thompson said while addressing a quarry operators’ workshop held on Wednesday (February 23) at the St. Theresa’s Church Hall in Annotto Bay, St. Mary.
The workshop was held to remind the operators of their responsibilities, and ensure that they operate within the strictures of their licences, to sustain the environment and improve conditions within the industry. The quarry operators licence stipulates that the areas of safety, engineering and environmental practices must be strictly adhered to, to ensure sustainability.
Mr. Thompson informed that an inter-agency approach has been taken to eliminate unsafe quarrying activities in Jamaica.
He outlined that when an operator applies for a licence, agencies such as the National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), Water Resources Authority (WRA), the local authorities, National Works Agency (NWA), and the Rural Planning Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, are invited to comment on the application request.
The responses are carefully analysed after which a recommendation is made and submitted to the Minister for the appropriate action to be taken.
In his presentation, NWA Environmental Engineer, Mark Richards, stressed the importance of adhering to the operating standards to ensure the safety of roads and bridges. He said that any changes in the dynamics of rivers, from which aggregates are often mined, can impact the safety and viability of these structures.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South East St. Mary, Tarn Peralto, reiterated the call for the operators to adopt best practices to ensure that the road network is not compromised.
Rupert Miller, who operates a sand and gravel quarry in the Berrydale area of Portland, said these workshops are very informative, as “they act as a reminder to ensure that we operate within the required standards.”
Also addressing the workshop were Deputy Commissioner of Mines, Ronald Edwards; and inspectors of mines in the Ministry, Paul Henry, Rohan Henry and Michael Jackson.
It is estimated that 30 per cent of the US$400 million budgeted for the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), will be spent on local aggregates.
CONTACT: LORNA WILLIAMS
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE