NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A proposed aggregate mining project on Andros is said to be targeting significant economic opportunities for the community and economic diversification for the country at large, with its developers seeking the necessary approvals.
Bahamas Materials Company Limited ia headed by Cameron Symonette, the Symonette Group’s chief executive, and his joint venture partner Ted Baker of the US-based Blue Water Industries.
The pair are seeking a 40-year lease over 5,000 acres of Crown Land to carry out the North Andros mining project. There is also an upland real estate development component to the proposal.
According to the company’s website, the aggregate will be used for road construction and mostly exported to the United States or locally.
“The project’s main objective is to secure high-wage jobs for Bahamians, particularly those living in North Andros, and provide economic opportunities for businesses in the communities,” he said.
“This is also the first of many steps meant to diversify the Bahamian economy, which has continued to rely heavily on tourism, off-shore banking, and imports from the United States. As Bahamian developers, it is imperative to the company’s partners and collaborators that a positive economic impact can be made in North Andros and the country at large. Essentially, the developers have put the sustainability of the island, the needs of its people, and the environment at the core of this project.”
Eyewitness News understands that Symonette and his partner Baker have been mulling over the project for more than a decade and in recent weeks have been consulting with Androsians for feedback on the proposal.
The proposal has been met with some opposition as public debate on the use of the country’s natural resources continues to heat up.
Cameron Symonette is the nephew of businessman and St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette.
Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller, the Opposition spokesman on natural resources, said in a statement released yesterday that the Progressive Liberal Party does not support the proposal.
“All value-added commercial activities and operations in connection with the use of the country’s natural resources must take place onshore in The Bahamas for the maximum economic benefit of the Bahamian people. Further, the deep water harbor or port at Morgan’s Bluff, North Andros, must remain a public good and within the ownership of the Bahamian people,” said Miller.
“During the PLP’s last term in office, the Parliament legislated and passed into law the Sovereign Wealth Fund, setting out the legal regime, framework and the institutional infrastructure that will manage all revenues and financial resources accrued to the government from the sale, lease, licensing, PPP or from any other commercial transaction connected to and with the use of the country’s natural resources.”
Miller said: “We believe the Sovereign Wealth Fund as the primary executing mechanism to building commonwealth is the right thing to do for the Bahamian people as it is in line with the party’s core principles of social and economic justice as we continuously strive to make our country’s natural wealth common. In due course, the PLP will speak more comprehensively about this important national policy issue that has such far-reaching consequences for the future and sustained development of The Bahamas and the fortunes of our people.”