This report forms one of a series of Project Technical Reports that consider the environmental, economic and social impacts of river mining in developing countries, with a particular focus on Jamaica, as a case study for the issues that arise. River mining occurs in many developing countries principally to extract sand and gravel for use as aggregates in the construction industry.
This report considers how sustainable development can best be promoted in the context of existing laws, administration and operation of river mining and what changes are required to achieve a more sustainable approach.
The report recommends that the most appropriate forms of regulation will be those that allow the operators of mines and quarries to invest in operations on a reasonably secure basis, to put in place proper operational and environmental infrastructure, and over a period of time that reflects the ability to make a reasonable return on the investment. This generally means granting permits or licenses for longer periods, but equally means that the level of attendant control exercised by the regulator needs to be carefully considered and individual mining monitored, with effective enforcement of license conditions where necessary to prevent or, where this fails, to remedy harm to the environment. It is clear that at present neither of these basic requirements are met.
In order to achieve practices that are more sustainable in the long term and deliver effective governance, the basic requirements of a system of control need to be in place. These include:
1) an effective legislative framework that allows the exercise of control over river mining and other forms of quarrying activity;
2) an administrative structure that gives clear responsibility and authority to the respective agencies involved in such regulation;
3) well informed policies and proposals for the development and control of river mining and other forms of land-use as part of an integrated approach to land-use and the environment;
3) a shared commitment to the effective operation of the system by government and other stakeholders.
It is recommended in this report that the effective control of river mining and other forms of quarrying should be based on a system that provides:
1) clear and consistent form of forward planning, reconciling proposals for the existing and future use of land determined with reference to carefully considered social, economic and environmental priorities and objectives;
2) a system of permitting or licensing that requires a consistent level of information to be provided prior to individual decisions on applications to open a mine or quarry, measured against the policies and proposals set out in the forward planning context;
3) a commitment to effective monitoring and enforcement that is adequately resourced and informed of illegal mining or activity inconsistent with the license or permit
To help with this process a typical license or permit application form is recommended that helps indicate a level of information that is the minimum reasonably necessary to help assess individual applications to develop a mine or quarry.
Actions to help address the environmental and social effects of river mining can be broken down into:
Pro-Active Technical Solutions - this deals with the determination of the best practicable means of undertaking the extraction, processing and restoration of mining or quarrying operations and is focused at the planning stage, prior to the granting of a permission or license.
Reactive Technical Solutions - this deals with the determination of the best practicable means of mitigating existing mining or quarrying operations, addressing extraction, processing and restoration. It is focused at the operational stage and during the review or reissue of any permission or license.
At a practical level, to support this approach, this report also takes the assessment of environmental and social issues identified in the accompanying research reports and sets out a Code of Practice that is intended as a guide to each of the potential issues raised by river mining activity, summarises its key characteristics and sets an objective and performance indicator to help guide the actions of both quarry operators and regulators on the ground.
This report is available for downloading in full colour (4588 kb) and black and white (4588 kb).