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#336252 - 05/07/09 06:00 AM Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in Sep
Marty Offline
This is the southern boundary of land that has already been surveyed.

One of the ponds that remained after quarrying was done by NOVA in the Basil Jones Area.

The San Pedro Sun broke the story in the Vol. 19 #15 issue dated April 17th, of a parcel of land, 50 acres in size, which had been leased to North Island Development Company (NIDC). The location had been approved for a quarry that would sit in the Basil Jones Area, located next to the defunct Nova shrimp farm north of San Pedro Town. Many were the concerns posed by various residents as to what the quarry activities might include and the impacts that they may have on the island.

    Currently all construction materials such as gravel, stone, white marl, limestone, chippings and hardcore are barged to the island mostly from Belize City. Beside the limited amount that can be barged in at any given time, the cost of the product by the time it arrives on the island is at times triple the original cost. In many cases when the material is transported to the extreme north, the cost can get much higher. As it stands, Manager for NIDC Fidel Ancona confirmed that although they have applied to the necessary government agencies for a Quarry Permit to carry out pertinent activities, it has yet to be approved. According to Ancona, NIDC does not foresee any major problems with their permits receiving the necessary approvals. The land has been secured, surveyed and the survey plans are authenticated. “It will take some three to four months before we can see any activity,” commented Ancona.

    But what can be expected when quarry activities commence? Because the ground structure in the area is entirely rocky, quarrying will be simple. First, in the approved usage plot, which will be no more than five acres of land, the quarry company will drill small holes in strategic areas about five inches in diameter and about eight feet in depth. Within the holes, explosives (dynamite) will be plugged into the bed rocks and blasted simultaneously.

    According to Geologist Michelle Alvarez, from the Ministry of Geology, the type of quarry activities that NIDC intends to use is one of the safest and best methods to quarry for material. “Plugging holes and blasting the bedrocks is proven to be less detrimental to the environment than blasting a hill,” stated Alvarez. “It is safer as it relates to possible work hazards and it is self contained in terms of environmental impacts,” she added.

    In the application phase, Alvarez explained that procedure dictates that the applicant must provide a detailed plan as to how quarry activity will be conducted. Those plans should specify the amount of material to be extracted, proper demarcation of the total land to be used, size of area that will be approved in usage phases, and the entire project itself. Other requirements would include details on rehabilitation and aesthetic plans after each phase and after the entire project. Quarry activity will be approved by phases and before each usage portion is approved, the first area blast must show some form of rehabilitation or that it is in the process of being rehabilitated.

    But what about the explosives and the underground effects they might have? Joe Fuzy, a quarry expert working in Belize for 35 years, stated that there are two main concerns. “The first concern is the effects the mining may have on fresh, underground water veins, which can either be good or bad,” stated Fuzy. He added that, “if there are any open fresh water veins, then they may be damaged depending on the depth. This could cause the vein to clog. However, if the water vein has been clogged after having been overused, [mining] may have the adverse effect and reopen.” The second concern is the poisonous fumes that explosives release directly after the blast. “The company must ensure that people are not living in the immediate area because the fumes of the blast can be a health hazard over a period of time,” stated Fuzy.

    The land where quarry activity will take place is located 1,500 feet away from the beachfront. Ancona stated that actual blasting will be conducted 2,500 feet away from the beach. In addition, a maximum of 60% of the total leased land will be used for quarry activity and the other remaining untouched land will be used as part of the rehabilitation process. In one blast, NIDC will extract about 15 thousand cubic yards of material from an area the size of a football field. Blasting will be conducted by licensed experts. In terms of damages caused to any fresh water veins, no study in Belize has been conducted in order to ascertain the location of water veins in the country. When the quarry begins operating, Ancona believes that they will provide the island’s residents with cheaper material for development, decrease the risks of damage caused to the reef by the heavy traffic of barges within the inner reef and will also provide the opportunity to improve the town’s infrastructure.

San Pedro Sun

#336329 - 05/07/09 09:27 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in Sep [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
"As it stands, Manager for NIDC Fidel Ancona confirmed that although they have applied to the necessary government agencies for a Quarry Permit to carry out pertinent activities, it has yet to be approved. According to Ancona, NIDC does not foresee any major problems with their permits receiving the necessary approvals."
off course not, since he was just appointed Chairman of the Ambergris Caye Building and Planning committee, probably not seen as a conflict of interest by the Town board either...
The Dive Shops Daily Blog

#336332 - 05/07/09 09:52 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in Sep [Re: elbert]
elbert Offline
The Dive Shops Daily Blog

#337317 - 05/15/09 03:17 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: elbert]
Marty Offline
Proposed quarry on La Isla Bonita may have environmental concerns

Ambergris Caye is the most popular tourist destination and it is experiencing a construction boom despite a drop in visitors’ arrivals. Mega projects such as the controversial South Beach need an enormous quantity of gravel and limestone, which are being barged in at a high cost from the mainland. So there are now plans for a proposed quarry close to the Bacalar Chico Reserve. But could this turn out to be an environmental nightmare? Jose Sanchez headed to the island to find out.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Behind the idyllic beachfront property of Sueńo Del Mar, North Island Development Company Limited has decided to establish a quarry from which tons of limestone would be trucked to San Pedro, at a fraction of the current cost.

Fidel Ancona, Manager, North Island Development Company Ltd.
”We have a lease for 50 acres of land. And we are going to extract rock, limestone to create gravel for the future development of the north end. We feel that this is important because presently all the gravel is brought in from Belize City through the inner reef. And I think it’s hurting the inner reef coral along the way when it comes in here. Having the quarry here is practical, it’s going to help facilitate the development of the area in the future, and I think it will help protect the environment because we are doing it right here.”

Jose Sanchez
“When it comes to cost, what will be the cost benefit of getting the material from Belize City?”

Fidel Ancona
”Well, right now it costs us about $145 per cubic yard to bring materials from Belize City. We can sell this gravel here for less than $100 per cubic yard. You have to drill; you take a rock drill and you take depth that you want to go ahead and excavate. Once you have drilled the number of holes that you need, then you put the explosives in there and you go ahead and explode it. That breaks the rock. So you come with an excavator and you excavate the rock that’s already been broken and you take that rock and put it into the crusher to go ahead and crush it into smaller pieces.”

Fidel Ancona is manager of the project, located 11 miles north of San Pedro Town. He says using explosives to shatter the limestone is a very safe method.

Fidel Ancona
“It is safe. We’ve done it here before when I was working for the Nova hatchery. We had an expert. We have to have an expert with a license to do it. These people come over here and they do it safely. It was done here many times and no damage was done.”

The large rocks are as good as money waiting to be picked off the ground. But the site is located near Bacalar Chico, which has 12,000 acres of terrestrial reserve. One local N.G.O. says there may be environmental issues ahead.

Mito Paz, Executive Director, Green Reef
“One of the issues that might come up is that of the cenotes. Since they are going to be using dynamite to blow up the bedrock, that might have an impact on some of the underwater cave systems in that area.”

Jose Sanchez
“What is the purpose or the priority regarding the cave systems?”

Mito Paz
“Well, some of the cave systems we know are connected to the sea because they have tidal fluctuations. They are salt water. Some of them are fresh water that is very important for wildlife, especially for mammals and other wildlife living in that area to use those cenotes as a drinking source.”

Fidel Ancona
“We know where the cenotes are. We know that the closest cenote is maybe 3,000 feet south of us. The other one is west, maybe about half a mile. Most of the cenotes are more in the area where the airstrip used to be. We don’t know. There probably is a connection from here, but what we did here, we never found any connection with any caves and our new project is right next to this one on the other side of this lagoon. So we expect it to be similar to what we have over here.”

Mito Paz
“There is not a lot of studies done in that area especially in the cave systems. Nobody really knows the network of all the cave systems. So it’s hard to say what impact that is going to have, you know, that the actual dredging and the actual taking of the limestone; to the cave systems of that area so that’s going to be a concern. But more studies need to be done and probably an the EIA will have to be prepared for that.“

The idea of building a quarry is not new to San Pedro. For four years there was an operational quarry, which was built by Nova Shrimp Farm. Nova, as you know, is out of business and is now a ghost town. But Ancona intends to bring life back into the area by building his quarry next to the one that was built by Nova.

Fidel Ancona
“It’s going to be adjacent to it. It’s just going to be a straight 40 feet wide. Nova was here since 2000. I worked with them 7 years. They went bankrupt about 2 1/2 years ago. Roads north to south has already been agreed by a number of people that have been here. That has to happen because without that road, development is not going to occur as it’s supposed to occur.”

Assuming he gets the necessary permits from the Geology Department, Ancona’s company will have to get approval from Ministry of National Security for using explosives. And then he will also need the Ministry of Works to build the road of access from the north end to San Pedro Town. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The papers have not yet been filed with the Geology Department, but sources say that the project is dangerously close to the Bacalar Chico National Park.

Channel 5

#337322 - 05/15/09 03:49 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: Marty]
Tracker Offline
So does that mean that the Trucks will be able to cross the bridge? If they are allowed to use the bridge it wont last long.
Also Trucks driving up and down the North road !!!!!! what a nightmare that will be, and the rainy season is coming.
If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.
A bullet fired,cannot be called back.

#337326 - 05/15/09 04:18 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: Marty]
elbert Offline
The area behind Sueno Del mar is by far the most beautiful and interesting part of the island. Fresh water springs, wild life and underwater cave system are awesome.
I suggest everyone see it quick.
Other than the obvious and usual complains and objections I have for issues like this I also have some confusion about what they are quarrying and why. It implys it would be a substitute for building materials brought in from off the island. The material quarried would be composed of Calcium carbonate and soluble lime rocks not suitable for cement construction,and the only use I can imagine is landscaping, sea wall or road bed material.
Comparing the price of materials brought in from outside the island is a little dubious.
”Well, right now it costs us about $145 per cubic yard to bring materials from Belize City. "
Nothing coming from a quarry on this island is going to compare with the sand and gravel brought in from Belize city, totally an Apple being compared to an orange.
I'm sure this is not a misunderstand by the quarrymen just an intentional misdirection.

Edited by elbert (05/17/09 03:38 PM)
The Dive Shops Daily Blog

#337403 - 05/15/09 11:02 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: elbert]
Tracker Offline
Did they not say when the bridge was built that, "No heavy vehicles could use it". if the gravel is to be taken to town using the bridge, then we should all stop paying the tolls.
The more i think of this the crazier it gets.

This going to destroy the North island. I surpose it just comes down to greed and MONEY MONEY MONEY.
If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.
A bullet fired,cannot be called back.

#337404 - 05/15/09 11:13 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: Tracker]
ragman Offline
Tracker, It just does not make sense that they would even consider using the bridge. They must have another plan. Even a small truck loaded with gravel, say 6 - 8 tons gross would doom the bridge in short order in my opinion.

I'm very concerned as an owner of property that they will pass on the way down if this does happen. I bought up there to get away from the traffic and noise.
Somewhere on a beach in Belize

#337405 - 05/15/09 11:20 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: Tracker]
Peter Jones Offline
The idea of trucking material from Bacalar Chico to South Beach would be laughable if it weren't so tragic. Why are so many people intent on killing the goose that (used to) lay the golden eggs, with so few influential people against?

#337407 - 05/15/09 11:30 PM Re: Quarrying on north Ambergris Caye may start in [Re: Peter Jones]
ragman Offline
Peter, I'm sitting here thinking about this and the weight of gravel or sand varies between 2500 to 3000+ pounds per cubic yard. Then there is the weight of the vehicle. How could they possibly cross the bridge? I would think they would have to barge it down.

What are they going to do bring a Cubic yard down at a time? Ridiculous.
Somewhere on a beach in Belize

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