November 14, 2014
Bigger Biggs should not be restricted from mining – Technical advisors

Something is amiss in the case in which Leon “Bigger Biggs” Samuel is trying to have his minng licence reinstated.

So say supporters of the businessman, who gathered at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown this week, to show solidarity with the beleaguered entrepreneur.{{more}}

During a press conference on Wednesday, the technical advisors to Samuel gave their professional opinion as to why he should not have been restricted from carrying out mining operations in the area in the first place, and called for Samuel, who started his operations there in 2008, to have his licence reinstated.

Last month, after three years of inactivity, Samuel’s application to the Physical Planning Board to resume mining was approved; this was followed, days later, by a letter stating that a mining licence needed to be applied for and granted by the National Quarries Board, in the Ministry of Works, and that previous restrictions outlined to him had to be revised, before he could resume mining operations.

Those giving their input into the debate were agronomist Clive Bishop, civil engineer Glenford Stewart and former chief agricultural officer Philmore Isaacs.

Bishop, who gave technical information on the type of soil in the area, used the opportunity to debunk assertions that there was a collection of water, known as ponding at the site, which was said to have been caused by ineffective soil treatment caused by Samuel’s operations.

Bishop argued that the volcanic type of soil on the site would not have allowed for ponding in the area.

“Ponding of the soil is not possible… the claim of ponding is totally false; it is not possible technically.

“From a developmental and technical perspective of this country, what we are trying to show here is that a process has been used to discontinue operations of a local company which directly employed over 60 people, which is supposedly for technical reasons, which is technically unsound and methodically unsound….”

Isaacs, who was also a member of the Physical Planning Board from 1992 to 2007, outlined the procedure by which the board issues mining and building licences.

He said that it was unconstitutional for the board to rescind Samuel’s approval for the mining licence he received in October, because permission was not given by Cabinet.

“In no way does the town and country planning act say that Cabinet must approve; the board approves, and if there is any dispute, a tribunal set up; if there is any further, the High Court.

“So, it is plain in the analysis that there is something amiss in this case,” Isaacs declared.

Stewart told the gathering that he had been monitoring Samuel since the beginning of his mining operations, and is of the view that the businessman had one of the best run outfits at Rabacca, where other businesses operate.

Stewart said that it was his view that the Physical Planning Board and their advisors were instructed to refuse Samuel permission to resume work in the area, since he could not imagine “anyone with technical competence” would have advised the minister responsible for mining, to close the operations down on the basis of what is contained in the report.

“Any qualified technical mind should have some level of independence of intellect….

“Why would you print and advise on something that was false unless you had been instructed to do so…. You have to ask the technical people who instructed them to say there was ponding in sand and gravel and you have to ask the technical people who advised them to say that there was mining at the banks of the river.”

According to Marlon Mills, who chaired the proceedings, Samuel has resolved to continue to pursue permission to resume his mining operations.(JJ)