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Backhoe mining prohibited


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By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Large-scale gem mining using backhoes to carry out excavations is no longer permitted, the Government revealed in Parliament yesterday.

According to the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) has stopped granting permission to carry out mining using backhoes with effect from December 2014. 

However, permission is granted under the NGJA to use backhoes only for the purpose of panning the ore that has been unearthed and reclaiming the pits.

Resorting to mechanised mining, which has a serious impact on the environment, is also limited according to the Government. According to NGJA, permission to carry out mechanised mining in order to quickly remove gem deposits from lands that will be submerged by the Government’s accelerated development projects has been issued or just one land that is due to be used for the alternative road to Ratnapura. 

 “Mining the earth is inevitable in the mining industry, which has an impact, at least a minor one, on the environment. Here the impacts caused in the traditional tunnel mining industry and the mechanised mining industry can be classified into two categories. Total reclaiming is not carried out practically in mining tunnels and in mechanised mining a vast area is opened at once and later filled completely. However, if close supervision is not carried out when using backhoes, environmental damage may occur due to mining exceeding the limits of mining within a very short period,” the Minister of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms and the Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathilaka told Parliament. 

 


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