THE EDITOR, Sir:
While it is good that Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell is pushing for Jamaica to start the process of developing its rare-earth industry, I cannot help but wonder why it is that we forever seem to think inside the box.
Nothing is wrong with the attempt of the Government to extract rare earths from our bauxite. Indeed, the Government's effort must be commended. However, if Jamaica is to truly develop, we have to start thinking outside of the box.
The primary focus of Minister Paulwell seems to be getting the project to a stage where we can export rare earths in commercial quantities. Again, nothing is wrong here. But why don't we look at ways of developing our own industrial base with these rare-earth minerals?
We are now hoping to export these minerals to Japan. What does Japan plan to do with these minerals? It plans to develop its own advanced electronic industries. Why can't we also begin to think like this? Why must we always be willing to supply the minerals that others use to develop their own industries while we suffer?
when will we learn?
We did the same with bauxite and now we are about to do the same with these rare-earth minerals. When will we ever learn?
One of the reasons why there is such a global shortage of these rare earths is because China, the world's largest exporter, is curtailing its exports. It is not just because China wants to save what it has left for its own future generations - it's also because it wants to develop its own advanced industries as well.
Exporting these minerals is a good thing, but I was hoping that the minister would be looking at how we can develop our own industrial base with these minerals as well. Think bigger, Mr Paulwell.
MICHAEL A. DINGWALL