No estimate on how much is taken illegally by Guatemalans
The problem of illegal harvesting of gold by Guatemalans inside the Chiquibul forest is a growing concern for Belize, and Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) recently reported escalating illegal activities further inland from the Belize-Guatemala border, with gold panners coming from distant departments in Guatemala and trying more innovative techniques to search for gold.
What is drawing them to Belize is millions of dollars’ worth of precious gold. Michelle Alvarez, Geologist & Inspector of Mines, of the Mining Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, has informed Amandala that between the years 2000 – 2013, the volume of gold extracted from the Chiquibul under approved mineral rights was 2,538.4 ounces. Using the formula provided to our newspaper, we were able to calculate the value of the unprocessed gold at roughly BZ$6.2 million.
According to Alvarez, this has yielded BZ$233,348.77 in royalty payments (calculated at 5% of the unprocessed value) to the Government of Belize, apart from annual administrative fees and rentals, which are dependent on the area held under mineral right.
Meanwhile, there is no estimate of how much gold is taken illegally from Belize.
Official information provided to our newspaper indicates that Boiton Minerals Ltd., a locally owned company with international investors, has three mineral rights in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and National Park. Boiton Minerals Ltd. has two exclusive prospecting licenses and one mining license for gold exploration and extraction, respectively.
Furthermore, there are many other holders of prospecting licenses, but those holders are not assigned an “exclusive” area, Alvarez told us.
Earlier this month, the US company – Erin Ventures, the joint venture partner of Boiton Minerals, announced that it had reclaimed 100% interest in the Ceibo Chico gold prospect in Belize; however, the company said that it would be considering various options, including reselling the property.