Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Aragonite Royalty Issue in The Bahamas

Environment Minister Ignores Union’s Request on Aragonite Exports

By Jones Bahamas:

Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett has rejected requests from the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) to renegotiate the royalties the country receives from aragonite mining and also denied allegations that the country has approved aragonite mining near East Grand Bahama.

While speaking to reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday Minister Dorsett brushed off the union’s suggestion for the government to review the agreement for aragonite export which reportedly now sees the government receiving $2 per metric ton to increase it to $350 per metric ton.

“We’re not following the union’s direction, I’ve spoken in parliament on this matter, on the fact that we are now moving to create the national resources unit in my ministry I have spoken about salt, I have spoken about aragonite, I’ve spoken about oil, all of our extractive natural resources and the people of The Bahamas getting through the government fair compensation for the exploitation of those resources so this is nothing new,” he said.

“With respect to aragonite we are looking at the entire legislative framework because the existing legislation that is on the books which is quite dated was an approval for a specific company to carry out the undertaking in the absence of comprehensive environmental regulations governing the activity so were looking at the entire sector.”

Moving forward, Minister Dorsett said the government will use other countries as a benchmark to consider the best ways advance the industry.

Minister Dorsett also took the time to address claims that the government gave approval to a local developer to mine aragonite near East Grand Bahama.

“My colleague, the minister responsible for Grand Bahama has indicated that certain statements were made at a recent meeting in East Grand Bahama that may possibly give the impression that the government has approved aragonite mining activity on Burses Cay, I want to set the record straight in that regard,” he said.

“No such approval has been given by the government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”

According to Mr. Dorsett, the Nassau Island Development Company submitted an application to the government to mine aragonite on Burses Cay, however he said it is only under review.

He added that if any decision is made, the protection of the environment will remain a top priority.

During a press conference in Rawson Square earlier this week, the NCTUB president urged the government to renegotiate the amount of royalties the country receives from the export of aragonite.

According to Mr. Pinder while the country currently receives only $2 per metric ton, it is sold at $900 dollars per ton by the Billingham Dredging Corporation.

Mr. Pinder said the country is projected to reap $4.2 billion annually if royalties are received no less than $350 dollars.

Aragonite is a specific form of calcium carbonate sand. It is used to produce, cement, glass containers, soil and agricultural lime.

May 09, 2014

Jones Bahamas