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Caretaker presses for changes to bauxite mining

Published:Friday | May 22, 2015 | 4:22 PM

Zavia Mayne, the Jamaica Labour Party's caretaker/candidate for South West St Ann, is pressing the Government to revisit bauxite mining operations in St Ann and other sections of Jamaica in light of the issues associated with the current practice of extracting the ore.

"We support bauxite mining and the benefits that the country has derived from it. However, mining operations carry very serious social, economic and health issues that have gone unnoticed for in excess of 50 years.

"The current discussions on the defining of the boundaries of the Cockpit Country and the discussions on whether bauxite mining ought to be allowed to take place in that region should be accompanied by a review of the effects of bauxite mining on rural communities," Mayne said.

Mayne believes the Government should temper what seems to be the unfettered right of bauxite companies to enter communities and disrupt the existing structure.

reduced Earning potential

"The situation, as I understand it, is that when the mining company moves into a community, persons who reside on lands to be mined are relocated and community members who reside on the hilly sections have to remain in these mined-out communities.

"The effect of this," Mayne said, "is that after mining is complete, there are families in some communities who are rendered dependent on Government to provide them with basic amenities such as road, light, and water."

Mayne said that families in the South West St Ann area are particularly hard-hit, and he has seen families that have had their earning potential and the ability to send their children to school grind to a halt due to the effect of bauxite mining.

"Farmers and the bauxite company are competing for the same land and ... mined-out lands are not being reclaimed to any standard, if at all. Added to this, farmers are not sufficiently educated as to new farming methods such as greenhouse technology," Mayne said.

This, the caretaker/candidate said, is in addition to the associated environmental and health impact.