BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 30, 2021– The Belize Network of NGOs has released a statement in which it urges the Government of Belize to follow through on its assessment of the environmental impact of Boiton Minerals Ltd.’s (BML) mining operations and related works of the company in the Chiquibul National Park and to issue a stop order so that such an assessment can be done.
“The BNN strongly recommends that a stop order be issued now on the BML operations to fully enable such an assessment,” the BBN release states.
The release from BBN then points to what’s at stake if such operations aren’t assessed as soon as possible: “Any impact to the Belize River watershed threatens water and food security for a large percentage of Belizeans, particularly those in the Cayo and Belize Districts. Given these very high stakes, the precautionary principle applies in this case,” the release says.
BML is a company which was granted a license to mine gold within the alluvial deposits of Ceibo Chico and Ceibo Grande. Those tributaries are known to be the headwaters of the Belize River, a major source of fresh water in the country.
Friends for Conservation and Development (FCD) was the first conservation entity to sound the alarm on the direct threat the company’s operation poses to the environment in the Chiqubul Forest and the critical water sources located in that area.
The Government of Belize has since confirmed that BML was in contravention of the Environmental Compliance Plan that had been drafted to govern its operations, and as a result the authorities have initiated a comprehensive assessment.
GOB said that fines will also be imposed on the mining company for any damage they determine was caused to the environment.
The BBN also recommends that the media be granted access to the area, that information be shared with the public on the impacts and benefits of BML’s operations, that the appropriate penalties be imposed for any infractions found during the comprehensive assessment and that immediate corrective and restorative measures be implemented by the company as directed by GOB following the assessment.
The release from BNN further states, “The BNN urges the Government of Belize to strongly reconsider the issuance of licenses to extractive companies such as BML that operate in a remote environment in which there is little to no routine monitoring of operations by the respective authorities and a heavy reliance on self-policing by the company.”
The release adds, “When private interests are allowed to operate with impunity and without regular monitoring by the relevant Government agencies, we collectively abdicate this responsibility. We hope that this BML case serves as a wakeup call that extractive operations should only be approved on the condition that they do not risk our natural resources to the detriment of the Belizean people.”