(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – It is planned to set up a relief scheme for license holders when issuing sand, gravel and soil excavation permits and a formal program is planned to avoid delays in the issuance of permits, Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera says.
Currently, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau issues mining permits, which require the approval of a number of agencies and the license holders are required to make relevant payments. Licensing candidates have informed the Ministry of Environment that it will take a long time to obtain a license due to this situation.
Therefore, the Ministry of Environment will launch a program to facilitate licensees to obtain sand, granite and soil mining permits in one place without having to wait for them to be issued permits, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.
The Minister was addressing a meeting held at the Anuradhapura District Secretariat on the 13th. The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau has organized an awareness program for the mining license holders in the Anuradhapura District on how to excavate mineral resources in an effective and environmentally friendly manner. About 300 licensees attended the event.
One of the objectives of this program is to make the excavators aware of the need to rehabilitate the excavation sites in an environmentally friendly manner under this program called ‘Let’s Listen to the Earth’.
Accordingly, the Minister expressed his views regarding the proposed relief to be provided to the excavation license holders.
01. The excavation license will be extended for a period of 03 years.
The excavation permit currently issued for one year has to be renewed annually. Every year license holders have to obtain approval from a number of institutions. As it is a waste of time licenses will be issued for a period of three years at a time.
02 . Approval of all institutions will be granted from one place.
When a mineral is mined, it has to be approved by a number of agencies. Accordingly, the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau will carry out all the activities as the licensees have to go to various institutions such as Archeology, Urban Development, Pradeshiya Sabhas, Forest Conservation, Lands etc. Also, the money should be paid only to that bureau and the bureau coordinates with the relevant institutions.
03. Excavation license fee will be reduced by 50 percent.
Excavators have to pay a lot of money for each institution, so they have to spend a lot of money for it. Therefore, steps will be taken to reduce the license fee by 50 percent, the Minister said.
04. Processing and exporting of certain minerals not as raw materials but as value added value added products;
At present most of the valuable rare earth minerals in our country are exported as raw material. Therefore, it is possible to earn more money by launching a program to export them as value added products and not as raw materials.
05. Rehabilitation of the site at the end of the excavation project;
Following the completion of an excavation project, the site now looks like a “devil’s graveyard.” So much so that those places are visualized as scary places. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the excavation licensee to rehabilitate the site at the end of the excavation. This should be closely monitored by the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau.
The Minister also said contributions should be made to use the mineral resources as sustainably as possible for the development of the country.
Chairman of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau Anura Walpola, Director General Sajjana de Silva, Anuradhapura District Secretary R. M. Wanninayake also participated.