New agri minister looking to boost, expand local mining industry
Floyd Green, the newly appointed minister of agriculture, fisheries and mining, says he will be engaging stakeholders in the mining sector over the next three weeks to determine how to strengthen Jamaica’s local mining industry.
Addressing the annual Westmoreland Agricultural Show at the Mannings School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, on Sunday, Green said the planned meetings would include discussions with environmentalists on safe methods of mining.
“We will engage our stakeholders in the mining sector, and we want to have discussions with all the players and with our investors. Clearly, we will have to speak to our internal agencies who act as regulators, plus we are going to speak to environmentalists to see what the challenges are and how we can craft a mining sector that continues to bring in significant resources, but in a way, that is not to the detriment of our communities,” said Green.
“Already we see some shoots of opportunity such as limestone. Jamaica has the best quality limestone in the world, and we will be placing some special emphasis on that, and we will also be placing some emphasis on rare earth elements,” added Green.
Green’s announcement comes two months after the Government signed a deal that will allow Mineral Agency for Retail and Logistics (MARL) Limited to revive several hundred kilometres of idle railways for freight and commercial services.
The deal, which MARL signed with the Jamaica Railway Corporation and then-Transport and Mining Minister Audley Shaw, is expected to result in $33 million being earned in the first year. Under the agreement, aggregate will be transported from Old Harbour to Linstead, and the return trip will see marl transported from Bog Walk to Port Esquivel in Old Harbour for shipment to other Caribbean islands.
Green said discussions would also be held with the operators of bauxite-alumina producer JISCO-Alpart to map out the company’s future operational plans and the impact those plans will have on residents in nearby communities.
“I expect to meet with the team from Alpart come next week because we really need to have some firm decisions about what is happening with Alpart. A number of our residents in our neighbouring parish of St Elizabeth have depended on working for Alpart for years. There were significant plans, and as minister, I want to see how we can move that forward,” said Green.