Statement by Hon. Crenston Buffonge
The Government of Montserrat is pleased to announce that sand mining in the Upper Belham Valley in Zone V can now formally take place. The sand mining industry is considered a key sector for the Government of Montserrat. It is the main export commodity from Montserrat, and the industry employs over 60 persons, bringing in much needed foreign exchange.
After months of discussions and working with several stakeholders, the process to rezone and legalize new areas for sand mining has been formalized and approved. My Ministry has ensured that all the required steps are in place to guarantee transparency and that all protocols will allow for safe and sustainable operations of the sand mining industry.
These actions included the following:
- Mapping of the sand mining area for Zone V (Upper Belham).
- Marking and Signage of the Upper Limit for sand mining.
- Preparation and approval of Sand Protocols and Procedures to be followed by the Sand Miners.
- Refining the criteria for Health and Safety Plans to be submitted by Miners.
- The development of Environmental Guidelines for the monitoring of sand mining in the newly approved mining sites.
- Preparation and approval of a Sand Mining License which Miners will use to apply for permission to mine on Crown Lands.
- Stakeholder meetings with the Sand Miners and Landowners.
- Site visit into the area with Sand Miners to provide guidance.
With those protocols in place, the Sand Miners are now applying for Licenses and planning permission from the Planning & Development Authority (PDA). Additionally, all Sand Miners will also need to make formal applications for Permits from the DMCA to Enter Zone V.
This process has been a long one, but I am very proud to say that we have achieved the goal. This achievement could not have taken place without the input and cooperation of several individuals, departments, and stakeholders:
Special thanks and commendations are in order to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing & the Environment, Mrs. Beverley Mendes and the skilled and professional team she assembled within the Ministry to lead this effort; this includes the Montserrat Land Development Authority, the Lands & Survey Department, Physical Planning Unit, GIS Unit, and the Department of the Environment.
I also extend special thanks to the Sand Miners for their input at the meetings that were held to progress this matter. To the Montserrat Volcano Observatory for the in-depth Risk Assessments and Recommendations; to the Director and staff of the DMCA, the Hon Attorney General’s Chambers and to the Landowners, I appreciate your input.
This exercise was a long one, but together we have achieved progress. I look forward to sustainable, and risk-free sand mining operations in Upper Belham. The Ministry will now turn its attention to putting the necessary protocols and procedures in place for sand mining operations in Fort Ghaut.
The Government of Montserrat will remain committed to providing the necessary support towards the continued success of the sand mining industry on the island.
Hon. Crenston C. Buffonge