Gov't moves to tighten rules for quarry operators
Daraine Luton, Senior Gleaner Writer
QUARRY OPERATORS will be required to issue receipts and dispatch vouchers for material if the Parliament approves an amendment to the Quarries Control Act, which was tabled in the House of Representatives last week.
Under the amended act, the receipt or voucher must state the quantity of the material as well as other information which may be prescribed.
A person who knowingly issues a receipt or voucher that reflects misleading information will commit an offence, and if convicted in a Resident Magistrate's Court could face a fine of up to $1 million and/or jail time of up to one year.
It is also proposed that any person authorised by the commissioner of mines or a member of the police force can request that a receipt or voucher be produced.
The Quarries Control Act was passed in 1983, and according to portfolio minister Phillip Paulwell, there has been increasing problems of illicit quarrying, which has highlighted the need for more effective regulation of the quarrying industry.
Another feature of the bill is the vesting of powers in the commissioner of mines to conduct random sampling of quarry material or quarry mineral. It further proposes that the commissioner, or a person duly authorised by him, may enter any quarry to extract a sample for testing. The cost for such testing is to be borne by the operator.
Meanwhile, the bill proposes that a person who engages in the illegal extracting, purchasing, stockpiling, transportation or disposing of quarry material or quarry mineral shall be guilty of an offence and is liable, upon conviction in Resident Magistrate's Court, to a fine of up to $1 million. He may also be slapped with a prison term of one year or to both fine and imprisonment.
Persons who use mechanical motorised equipment such as tractors, loaders and drag lines in illicit quarrying may, in the case of first conviction, be subject to a fine of up to $1.5 million or 18 months in prison. In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, the person could be subject to a fine of up to $2.5 million or two years in jail.
The law is also to be amended to prevent a quarry operator from undertaking mining activities within 15 metres of the boundary of any other land without the lawful authorisation of the occupier of that other land.
Quarries above a size prescribed by the minister will have to be managed by a person who has successfully completed a prescribed course of study for certification of quarry management and be the holder of a certificate issued by the commissioner. The application for such certificate must be accompanied by a prescribed fee.