Mining Sector Stakeholders Urged to Pay Close Attention to Safety, Health, Environment


State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Victor Cummings, is urging stakeholders in the mining sector to pay close attention to occupational safety, health and the environment.
“While we plan and focus our efforts on increasing production in the sector, we must continue to pay attention to occupational safety and health and the environment.. which command not just national, but international attention,” he emphasized.
Mr. Cummings was speaking at the 32nd annual staging of the National Minerals Industry Safety Awards Ceremony last week at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.Citing the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that stipulates that all countries must have in place an Occupational Safety and Health Act, the State Minister informed that various agencies within the industry have been meeting to formulate the proposed policy.
“Meetings are currently being held with agencies that have specific responsibilities for occupational safety and health in preparation for the promulgation of Jamaica’s Occupational Safety and Health Act,” Mr. Cummings said.
He explained that the introduction of this new piece of legislation would impact on a number of existing legislation dealing with occupational safety and health.
The State Minister acknowledged that mining and quarrying have significantly impacted the environment. “We must be in a position to balance economic pursuits with environmental considerations,” he asserted.
Mr. Cummings said that in light of the increase in the number of public sector regulatory agencies and other environmental watchdog groups that were highlighted during the discussions on the issue of the granting of a prospecting licence in the Cockpit County, it was even more critical for the industry to perform at the highest standard.
“In that particular situation, the Ministry acted admirably and subsequently, a boundary survey was commissioned to determine the limits of the Cockpit Country, based on indisputable scientific parameters,” he said.
In the meantime, Mr. Cummings highlighted the growth within the sector. He stated that the sector grew by two per cent, and that this performance was due to a 5.3 per cent increase in total bauxite production, which amounted to 14.9 million tonnes, the highest figure recorded since 1974.
The State Minister also congratulated the industry for specifically dedicating some of the awards to the promotion of occupational safety and health. “This process commenced last year and the aim is to ensure that safety and health are embraced and practised in our industrial minerals operations, as is the case for the bauxite industry,” he said.

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