Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis
May 25, 2018
All sand mining at Diamond to cease

Government has taken the decision to cease sand mining at Diamond and as of Monday May 28, truckers will have to journey to Drip beach at Rabacca to purchase sand.

This move to Rabacca will see the cost of transporting sand increase, but Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis said this is unavoidable.The price per cubic yard of sand remains the same at $14.50 and Francis says expecting the Government to absorb the cost of trucking is unreasonable.

Francis made the announcement last Tuesday and stressed that St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is getting to the stage where we must seriously consider ceasing the mining of sand on the beaches and moving to sand importation and other ways of providing sand for construction.

He said that three months ago, the government decided to cease mining sand at Brighton and now they have taken the decision to also cease mining at Diamond as they are no longer able to provide the required amount of sand needed from these mining areas.

The Minister stressed that sand mining at Brighton and Diamond, along with global warming and the rise of sea levels posed a threat and the Diamond location is now down to rock bottom so that the tractor has to go close to the water’s edge. “….30 to 40 trucks usually line Diamond trying to get sand and there have been confrontations and chaos from time to time to be able to supply sand for the demand,” explained Francis, who noted that a lot of construction is taking place in the country and he is encouraging persons to utilize the various products available at Rabacca.

“We intend to move to importation and utilizing the locally produced sand at Rabacca,” he stated.

The transport minister said around 1991, the OECS countries did a study on the effects of mining sand from our beaches and the feasibility of having an alternative source of sand.“…and while we in St Vincent and the Grenadines introduced the alternative of imported sand in the 90s, it fell by the wayside with the heavy cost of the sand and the availability of supply, plus with the fuel prices on the increase in those days, the freight on sand added to the cost of sand,” said Francis.He revealed that presently, to bring 4000 tonnes of sand from Guyana costs US$24,000 for the sand, while the freight is US$52,000.

Francis noted also that Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica and Antigua have banned sand mining on beaches and SVG is the only country in this region that still mines sand because of the low cost of the sand on the beach compared to its alternative.

Beach sand is sold here at $14.50 per cubic yard while sand produced in the other islands will sell for about $55 to $60 per cubic yard. Imported sand from Grenada will run about $181 per cubic yard.

He said builders sometimes complain that the sand at Rabacca is not fine enough for plastering but there are alternative types of sand at Rabacca.The washed sand is $46.40 per cubic yard and Francis is encouraging persons to use it as it will not cause paint peeling and moisture like the beach sand which has a high salt content.

He said the popular beach sand causes columns and beams to crack and concrete slabs to break off and using some of the different types of sand from Rabacca can lessen the prevalence of these issues while the prices are low compared to other countries.

Francis said also that before the closure of Brighton and Diamond, persons did not want to drive to Rabacca because of the distance, but now they have no choice, so he is encouraging persons to take advantage of the Rabacca products because eventually, beach mining will be closed off completely and imported sand, compared to what is available at Rabacca, will be much more expensive.

“There was a run on the beaches in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the beaches were destroyed by machine and men. Buccament Bay was reduced to stones. Mt Wynne and Peters Hope were attacked…this will be avoided in this scenario,” stressed Francis who added that private persons have shown interest in becoming involved in sand importation.

“We are encouraging the private sector to invest but if they are not interested we will do it. We have two interested operations to import sand,” said Francis while noting the imported sand is expensive, and government had losses when importing sand as sand is sold by weight to  importers, but sold by volume here.

Francis said they have been working for a week and a half to prepare for sand mining at Drip and they have stockpiled 2000 cubic yards and will not allow trucks to go onto the beach at the new location.

He said also that security will be placed at Diamond to stop persons from going there.

“We hope to start selling from next Monday and Diamond will be closed on the weekend,” said Francis while adding, “it is going to be critical that the public gives support to the government and the country. There is demand for sand and there are persons out there who would try to abuse a situation.”

Francis said he knows persons steal sand at other beaches like Wallilabou and Rose Place and this practice must stop.

“I am asking residents to help us police this. All of us have to take responsibility, it is a national issue,” said Francis who also noted, “at Diamond right now if you get two loads of sand per day it is a miracle.

The amount of trucks that are packed up there with the low level of sand. This will make persons more responsible for the sand they have to pay for. People dump sand anywhere and if you have to pay a little more you will manage it better.

We can’t continue to mine uncontrolled.”