SPTC says North AC Quarry is benefitting the island’s infrastructure
Thursday, November 12th, 2015
Reports have been circling around that 50 acres of prime land in Northern Ambergris Caye were sold and are now being used as a land fill. The story is not a strange one, as it was a hot topic for the public over five years ago. At the time, the location was approved for a quarry that would comprise of the Basil Jones area and the area next to the defunct Nova Shrimp farm. The project went quiet for some time after residents raised concerns as to what the quarry activities could include. This time, the quarry is in a different area, situated along the east coast of Cayo Frances Lagoon, just 7.5 miles north of San Pedro Town and it has been granted an environmental clearance for a mining subdivision project. The environmental clearance was granted subsequent to a signing of an Environmental Compliance Plan on June 19, 2015.
According to Denver Gillett, mineral surveyor from the Ministry of Natural Resources, permits for the quarry were given in January of this year. “The permits were issued with the condition of the company getting a license. A permit needs to be renewed every year, while a license is good for three years while the company pays royalties for the materials being extracted. One of the activities taking place at the area will be the formation of a water feature, while extracting the material for construction of road. The material that is being extracted will be available for government projects as well, hence, one of the reasons why the permit was granted,” said Gillett. He stated that from the 50 acre block, only five acres are supposed to be excavated at a time.
The master plan of the quarry, calls for a subdivision of land into 41 lots, the extraction of material and one proposed lake. Manager of Cayo Frances Limited, Fidel Ancona, commented on the project and its benefits. “The project is set to benefit the island with the extraction of top quality material for the construction of roads, while protecting the environment. In contrast with the high costs to bring material from the mainland which puts at risk our reef from the traffic of barges, the substitute we have on the island is of good quality and it blends in well with our environment,” said Ancona. He also indicated that the lake near the project will be beautified and turned into a pond. “A pond will be created as the material is extracted and this pond will not have any connection to other natural lagoons. My plan is to aerate the pond by pumping air through perforated PVC pipes set on the bottom of the pond to provide oxygen for the fish and shrimp that I would stock in it to keep the pond alive and attractive. The final product will become a tourist attraction where locals and tourists can come and enjoy themselves by catching and releasing these fish. It is a well-coordinated project and it will cause no harm to environment,” ended Ancona.
According to Mayor Daniel Guerrero, he does not really see that much of a negative effect from this project. “That quarry has provided material for the building of the road up north and it will provide more material for the remaining of the road that needs to be build. As we speak right now, there are trucks going into San Mateo to fill the streets with white marl and, as well as in San Pedrito, so it is beneficial for the island. If it was wrong, I would let them know but, we are getting our streets done and probably many businesses like hotels, will have needed the material for their landscaping,” said Guerrero. “Of course I am not saying that there might not be an impact on the environment, but the chances of any are very minimal. I am not an expert in the environment, but I don’t think it will do that much damage if there is any.”
Ancona stated that the company had already applied for a license and expects to receive it before the year is done. Upon the receipt of this, the company will be able to extract material of more than five acres at a time. So far, the extraction of material has only been from 2.5 acres and just one acre generates over 15,000 cubic yards of material. At the moment heavy duty machinery can be observed busy at work, extracting the white marl material that is being used for the development of the island’s infrastructure. The main vision, according to Ancona is to provide the islanders with good, cheaper construction material and offer the opportunity for the development of the town’s infrastructure.
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