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Minister Habet Speaks on Gold Mining in the Chiquibul

In August, the Government of Belize confirmed that Boiton Minerals Limited breached its Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP). An assessment of BML’s activities in the Chiquibul and a visit at its operation sites revealed that several conditions of the ECP were not being met. These activities according to the Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) put the Chiquibul headwaters in direct threat, an assertion that BML denies. While the government confirmed these offenses, and stated that penalties would be levied, details of what those penalties would be were not shared. Minister of Sustainable Development Orlando Habet was asked about on via a zoom interview on Thursday.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk:  “I don’t think the fines have been completed. I think a process has been established where they will have to start restoration of the areas that were damaged and I think that they also have to make certain that all their license are in place. Also that there has to be more consultation with the department, well all the departments that are involved because you have the Department of Environment on onside dealing with EPC, you have the Forestry Department that has to give the permit for them to enter the reserve and you have the Minerals Unit that has to give he permit for the actual drilling for the minerals. So I think the tripartite body is now also contemplating right now a second visit to the site to make certain that whatever stipulations they’re putting for compliance will be according to what they stipulate based on what we’re going to do with the EPC. So the first I think they noticed what was happening there but I think now they’re going to make certain that all there requirements for restoration can be complied with. And to give a timeframe or timeline. What happened was they possibly deviated from the compliance plan. For example if they tell you you can’t do a road that’s wider than thirty feet and they went thirty five feet then they went off. They will use some of the responses they gave us was well if the machine was passing here and there was a large tree or a large rock that is there and I had to move it then that already occupied five feet of space because they had to have access so things like that. But I think that we also have our work cut out for us because we need to have a system in place where there is better monitoring and maybe not our department which is not responsible but possibly another department that may be responsible for making certain that whatever product is moved is accounted for.”