Prof. Ravi Chaturvedi
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Tar sand mining plan at standstill
Falconer wants Government to take a leadership position and forge ahead with implementation of tar sands mining. He said the industry that will improve T&T’s economy and won’t harm the environment. Falconer, president of the Canadian firm Environmental Recovery Solution (ERS), said despite efforts to obtain approval to demonstrate his plant’s environmentally safe method of extracting crude oil from tar sands, his requests to meet with the Environmental Management Authority’s have gone unanswered. Noting that a rival firm, Geominex Resources Limited, has already signed an agreement with the Ministry of Trade and Investment,
Falconer said: “We have been trying to get approval for a small demonstration plant to provide the proof of process to the people and Government of Trinidad and Tobago for the past four years. “We have spoken with representatives of Petrotrin and the Ministry of Energy, and have made a formal request for a mining lease and extraction permit through Minister Kevin Ramnarine. We are continuing with the process of applying for a mining license. “A key aspect of this is the vigorous pursuit of a meeting with the CEO of the EMA via the Environment Minister Ganga Singh. To date our requests have gone unanswered despite many attempts to get a firm meeting date,” Falconer said. Last week, Trade and Investment Minister Vasant Bharath said the US$5 billion project has the potential to boost T&T’s daily oil production by 50,000 barrels. He said the industry can increase economic activity in T&T through the creation of downstream industries and ancillary businesses. “I am throwing that out because we need to start thinking differently if we are to develop our country,”
Bharath had said. Falconer said ERS is hoping to process scrap car tyres, plastics, refinery wastes and other waste streams for the benefit of T&T. “Finding the doors of industry closed to us in Canada, we looked for an alternate area where we could launch this technology to the world. Trinidad is our preferred location where we want to base our tar sands business and we are hopeful the people and institutions of Trinidad are the major shareholders in our company.” “We note that Geominex Resources Limited has signed a MOU with the Ministry of Trade and this makes me wonder if we have been pursuing our aims through the wrong channels. We were led to believe that the tar sands were under the control of Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine. “We were further led to believe that without the approval of the EMA, the Energy Minister would have difficulty proceeding.
Our demonstration unit will offer, at no cost to Trinidad, proof that our claims are accurate and that we can deliver a real solution to Trinidad that will benefit all Trinidadians. Of course this technology will have the potential to be exported to the rest of the world from Trinidad, which will provide continued benefits to Trinidad,” Falconer said. He said while there were fears of possible environmental impact from tar sand mining, his 2007 trials in Alberta, Canada, yielded an increase from 80 per cent to 99.9 per cent compared to other mining processes. Falconer said with his technology no water is used unlike traditional methods which use up to six barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced. “In fact we had no significant emissions from our process. The core technology has been commercially operated for almost 20 years and has never had a breach of its license conditions in any country,” he said. He admitted, however, that the technology is not being used in Canada. “The technology was buried by Canadian operators who do not want to have a process that could potentially signal the end to the current bad practices that occur today in tar sands mining in Canada,” he said.