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‘Bigger Biggs’ mining issue still unsettled

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It is still unclear when the impasse involving local businessman Leon “Bigger Biggs” Samuel and government officials will end.{{more}}

Chief Engineer Brent Bailey told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that when the Physical Planning and Development Board (PPDB) met on Thursday, September 26, they received a report on the Samuel matter and immediately following, another meeting was held with Samuel and his team.

Bailey explained that the meeting with Samuel was so that Samuel and his team would have the opportunity to provide any additional information they may have, in relation to the issue at hand.

Bailey said he also reviewed a report on the matter, prepared by structural engineer Glenford Stewart, which was submitted by Samuel.

Although he said that he could not give any details about what transpired at the meeting, Bailey told SEARCHLIGHT that the next step would be for a report to be first submitted to the Attorney General, Judith Jones-Morgan, the chief surveyor and then the minister for final approval.

“Because this is a yes or a no matter and has legal implications,” Bailey said.

However Samuel, when contacted, said that he walked away from the meeting without anything concrete.

“And that was one of the things that I was surprised about,” Samuel said.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that he went expecting to hear about the terms and conditions that he would be allowed to mine under, but it turned out that the issue was no longer about the environment, but rather land.

In 2012, the impasse escalated after the chief engineer ordered that the gate to Samuel’s property be knocked down, as it was the view of government officials, that the gate was blocking a public access road.

Samuel in a telephone interview yesterday, argued that it was not possible to rely solely on a land plan to determine boundaries, as land can change its shape due to natural earth movements.

“It’s the deed,” he said.

“The deed will tell you how your boundaries operate,” Samuel continued.

According to the businessman, his plot of land at Rabacca was situated between two rivers – the Jane River and the Rabacca dry river.

So if this land was measured again, it would be different, the businessman maintained.

“It would have gotten smaller than when it was initially surveyed, because water is eroding lands.”

“This is what the experts are trying to show Brent,” Samuel said.

But he added that he could not be satisfied with the terms and conditions for him to resume business, when he did not see them.

“What transpired mostly was the issue of land and road.”

It was towards the end of the meeting, Samuel said, that the Colin Campbell, Secretary of the Planning Board, brought the meeting back to its focal point – not land, but environmental issues.

He acknowledged however, that the future of his business is now in the hands of the “higher authorities.”

And while he said there was no assurance that he would receive his license to resume mining operations, as long as the terms and conditions are reasonable, he is willing to abide by them. (DD)

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