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Combating Desertification and Drought

GEF Project to be Game-changer for Trinidad Quarries

IPS correspondent Jewel Fraser finds out whether a GEF-funded project can really help Trinidad and Tobago quarry companies be environmentally responsible.

PORT OF SPAIN, Mar 31 2020 (IPS) - A Trinidad and Tobago parliamentary report in 2018 made two disturbing observations about that country’s quarry sector:

  • Of the 67 mining operators on record, only 6 were operating with current licenses;
  •  The State loses large sums in the form of unpaid/uncollected royalties from quarry companies.

This unregulated state of affairs is also having an adverse impact on the environment since many quarry companies do not follow environmentally sustainable practices. But the government is hoping that a Global Environment Facility-funded project, IWEco, will change that. 

Alicia Aquing, Project coordinator with IWEco believes a quarry rehabilitation project that IWECo is carrying out in northeast Trinidad will inspire quarry companies to operate sustainably by virtue of lessons learned from her model site. It’s a big challenge in view of the many problems plaguing the industry. A  white paper on the industry noted problems in  the sector ranging from the presence of criminal elements; biodiversity loss, stress on the natural  water systems and deforestation caused by illegal quarrying or poor practices; to the problem of weak regulatory agencies unable to enforce laws governing the sector.

As for the 61 unlicensed companies, the Parliamentary report later clarifies that these refer to mineral processing plants whereas there were 42 licensed quarry operators in 2015 and another 46 operating under expired licences.

In this Voices from the Global South podcast, IPS Caribbean correspondent Jewel Fraser pays a visit to the IWECO rehabilitation site to learn more about what it is doing.

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