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Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of the Bahamas Act 1997

Legal Risk Rating
Score: 25
Critical Risk
The Bahamas thinks about mining in the context of "excavation", which is defined in the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of The Bahamas Act, 1997 as "digging systematically into the ground, of physical natural resources (such as soil, rock, quarry, fill or sand)." To contemplate using the legislation to licence a mine would be a comical exercise worthy of entertainment, but unlikely to be successful. Whilst the legislation suggests it might be theoretically possible, the Minister has the clear power to block mining areas or create them and in the absence of an extraordinary find capable of moving the GDP of the country this legislation is unlikely to ever be used for permitting a mine.

Regulatory Corruption Risk

Very High Corruption Potential

Corruption Exposure Risk

Moderate Corruption Risk

Legal Risk Rating

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Mining Overview Commentary plus sign



Located off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean, The Bahamas is an island country made up of over 700 islands. Near these islands exist deposits of aragonite sand, which is one of the country’s major exports, along with salt. While there are remain massive resources of aragonite on the seabed of the Bahamian islands, environmental concerns for the unique marine ecology in those areas are strong considerations for potential excavation or landfill operation. Alongside aragonite and salt, other commodities in The Bahamas include cement, refined petroleum, sand, gravel, and stone. Compared to the tourism industry, which generates roughly 50% of the country’s GDP, quarry operations remain a relatively small industry in The Bahamas and mining is virtually non-existent.


The primary minerals legislation in The Bahamas is the 1997 Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of The Bahamas Act. The purpose of this law is to make provisions that will conserve and protect the physical landscape of the island country, as well as license all quarrying and mining activities. Another important piece of legislation that has shaped the mining landscape in The Bahamas is the Ocean Industries Incorporated (Aragonite Mining Encouragement) Act of 1971. Constructed as a mining lease, this covenant granted Ocean Industries, Inc., a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Florida, USA, permission to construct a deep water channel and licenses to construct artificial islands at specific locations in Bahamian territorial waters for an extended term of fifty years primarily for aragonite mining.


The Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of The Bahamas Act, 1997 (1997 Act) lays out the requirements for grant of license for mining and quarrying. The Minister has the authority to prescribe areas permitting and forbidding quarrying or mining under the Act (section 16). Within areas permitted for quarrying and mining, a license is required for quarrying and mining and no person may carry out any quarrying or mining activity without a license (section 17). A license to quarry or mine may be granted by the Director so long as the payment of the prescribed fee is made, the application is satisfied, and the proposal is in compliance with the Act and other regulations.


In 2005, the Government of The Bahamas prepared draft legislation and regulations aimed at establishing an environmental impact assessment process. Neither the legislation, nor the regulations, have been passed to date and the environmental management and legal system in The Bahamas remains undeveloped. The lack of mining industry activity has forestalled the need for the development of other operational and construction permitting procedures and conditions.


See The Bahamas Environmental Regulation.

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Environmental Overview Commentary plus sign



The Bahamas is an island country made up of 700 smaller islands located off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. The country’s unique landscape consists mostly of flat, rocky terrain with low shrubs covering the land. Known for its clear blue waters, The Bahamas has a rich ecosystem that is home to over 100 species of plants and animals only found in the Island of The Bahamas. Furthermore, 5% of the world’s coral reef can be found in the waters of The Bahamas, including the world’s third longest barrier reef. The islands are made up of fossil coral and oolitic limestone as they were created as a result of disintegration of coral reefs and seashells.


The Minister of the Department of Environmental Health Services (“Minister”) and the Director of the Department of Environmental Health Services (“Director”) are the key authorities in this field of regulation. The main piece of environmental protection legislation is the Environmental Health Services Act, 1987, which indicates that “[a]ny person who … deposits in, adds to, emits or discharges into the environment any contaminant or pollutant or who permits the deposit, emission or discharge into the environment of any contaminant or pollutant is guilty of an offence” (see section 7). For purposes of the mining industry, the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of the Bahamas Act, 1997 is also important, as this legislation regulates any excavation, landfill operation, quarrying or mining of physical natural resources exceeding certain volumes and certain large scale developments (see section 3(a)–(c)).


Section 7 of the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape of the Bahamas (1997) gives the Director of Physical Planning (“Director”) the authority to require an applicant to submit “an assessment of the possible impact of that excavation, or landfill operation, upon the environment” along with the application. This assessment shall include wildlife habitat history of the location identified in the application for proposed excavation or landfill operation, historical background, and other features of that location as may be necessary. In 2005, draft regulations entitled “Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations of 2005” were prepared to establish the procedures for governing environmental impact assessments (“EIAs”). The draft regulations have never been passed.

The draft EIA regulations would clarify that an EIA should be a study conducted to determine whether projects are environmentally acceptable (section 2) and further define “environmentally acceptable” projects as being those that:

(a) comply with all established environmental standards and requirements;

(b) are environmentally beneficial or have no impact or no negative environmental consequences;

(c) are deemed suitable for the granting of an Environmental Clearance and Environmental Permit to Operate.

Project proponents would be required to obtain both an Environmental Clearance and an Environmental Permit to Operate via the EIA process before commencing operation of any proposed project. Projects subject to the EIA requirement would be categorized into two categories: A or B (section 6). A project that is larger and more complex and are “expected to have several, wide-ranging, sever, and/or complex impacts on the environment, or expected to affect sensitive or unique environments” would fall within Category A, and would require a full EIA. A project with few or limited associated impacts on the environmental would fall within Category B, and would require only a Basic Environmental Assessment (“BEA”) (section 6(a)–(b)).

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