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Published:Tuesday | December 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Mining company to get exclusive prospecting licence for precious metals

A NEW player is getting ready to hit the ground running in a quest to unearth, in Jamaica, an increasingly expensive metal on the international market.

Despite less than favourable results, to date, by companies which carried out exploratory work locally to find the precious metal, Rio Minerals Jamaica Limited yesterday signalled that it is in the process of getting a special exclusive prospecting licence to dig for gold.

In a notice published by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining in The Gleaner, the company is seeking to prospect for gold in the Mavis Bank/Epping Farm region of the parishes of St Andrew and St Thomas.

The area spans approximately 63km2.

The company is also targeting exploratory work with the aim of finding the expensive metal in an area of approximately 63km2 located in the Coopers Hill and Bellevue areas of Portland.

one-year licence

Commissioner of Mines Clinton Thompson told The Gleaner that after the publication of the notice, it could take about a month to process the application for the special exclusive prospecting licence.

Thompson said the prospecting licence is granted for a one-year period at which time the entity conducts tests or carries out pre-feasibility studies.

The commissioner of mines said exploratory work was like a gamble as there were no guarantees that the explorer would strike gold.

According to Thompson, the study could cost a company millions of US dollars and at the end it comes up with no result.

He said a number of entities have been granted licences to prospect for gold in the parishes of St Catherine, St Andrew, St Thomas, and Clarendon.

Huge Dom Rep discovery

Thompson said over the last two years, the Dominican Republic made a huge breakthrough when it discovered a sizeable gold mine.

He said significant gold discovery could transform a country from abject poverty to a position of considerable wealth.

Jamaica's first known gold mine was located in Pennants, Clarendon. It was operated by Australian company Ausjam, which began mining on expectations that it would have extracted 35,000 ounces of nine- and 15-karat nuggets.

But by December 2002, it had only yielded 12,000 ounces, and geologists suggested that only another 3,000 to 4,000 ounces remain to be extracted.

The company closed its operations in 2003 citing financial woes due to low ore grades.