Mon | Dec 11, 2017

New Day assessing mining impact of Cockpit Country boundary decision

Published:Sunday | November 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
A section of Cockpit Country as seen from Old Town in Accompong.

New Day Aluminium LLC is not sure yet how its bauxite-mining operations will be impacted by the decision on the boundaries for the Cockpit Country.

"We have not yet been fully apprised of the precise decision of the prime minister on

the Cockpit Country boundary and the permissible limits regarding mining," said Chief Administrative Officer Anthony Laura.

The finalising of a partnership agreement between New Day and the Government of Jamaica has reportedly been awaiting the Cockpit decision, but Laura said the company would have no other comment until they were fully briefed.

Holness announced in Parliament that mining will not be permitted in the Cockpit Country Protected Area. Accordingly, the Mining Act and any existing mining licences will be amended to close these areas to mining.

The decision casts a protective blanket over 74,726 hectares, known as the in Cockpit Country Protected Area, inclusive of hydrological and ecological features and cultural and heritage sites. The decision also expands the forest reserves.

New Day is an affiliate of Dada LLC, which acquired Noranda's stake in the St Ann Bauxite Limited last October, making it a partner with the Government of Jamaica in the venture. It continues to operate the mines as Noranda Alumina.

At midyear, a senior government official had indicated that without the partnership agreements, which await resolution of the Cockpit mining issue, Jamaican represent-atives cannot take their seats on the New Day Jamaica board and participate in the governance of the operation.

The official noted that because the agreements are pending, the Jamaican Government knew very little about the business in which it has a 51 per cent interest. He was also hoping the boundary decision would open up new lands up for mining.

The Cockpit is mostly in the parish of Trelawny, but it also borders on St James, St Elizabeth and St Ann.

Noranda had previously initiated preparation for mining near Stewart Town in Trelawny - including extension of haul roads and deployment of mining equipment has begun within Cockpit Country borders south of Stewart Town - activities which started the protest by the Jamaica Environment Trust against mining in the Cockpit region.

Noranda produces around 2.6 million tonnes of bauxite, but has the capacity to further increase output to 5.2 million tonnes. The company has an initial 25-year renewable lease with the Government of Jamaica and is expected to invest US$35 million in the operation over five years.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com