Cabinet agrees to grant licenses for dredging of sand from sea bed, despite caution about salt content from Blue Ocean

Antigua and Barbuda appears to be experiencing a shortage of sand, which is a vital requirement of the construction industry.

A decision was taken by the Cabinet last year (2022) to mine sand from the ocean floor, since the traditional sources are near depletion.

Accordingly, on Wednesday, February 8, the Cabinet invited the principals of Blue Ocean Dredging Company to its weekly meeting to address the issue.

Reportedly, these officials explained that sand mined from the ocean would need to sit on land until rain falls on the mounds and removes most of the salt.

It was noted that this process would take weeks of waiting, depending on rainfall frequency – which, over the past several years, has proved to be very infrequent.

However, the Cabinet countered that other Caribbean islands are reportedly utilizing this method of sand-mining for construction with minimal consequences and maximum success.

Therefore, the Environment Division and the Department of Fisheries will provide the Development Control Authority (DCA) with the relevant licences – which will be temporary at first and then continuous, according to the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the principals of the Blue Ocean also discussed the payment of additional expenses incurred to remove the hard-rock material from the ocean bed.

Further work reportedly was required of the company in order to widen and deepen the channel and the turning-basin that lead to the berthing piers.

The Cabinet reported, earlier, that further debt would be incurred since equipment had to be brought in from Panama to replace those damaged during the encounter of the dense rocks.

The additional dredging incurred a cost that the Government must absorb, according to this week’s Cabinet Notes.  That cost, however, was not stated.

NAMCO reportedly has a stake in Blue Ocean Marine, and the Cabinet has said that profits will flow to Antigua and Barbuda.