National Minerals Policy Currently being Drafted


A National Minerals Policy is currently being developed to look at all the country’s mineral wealth and the mechanisms to develop these resources. It is expected that with the formulation of the policy there will be a single official document outlining government’s approach to the development of the minerals sector.
In an interview with JIS News, Oral Rainford, Director of the Ministry of Land and Environment’s Mine Monitoring Unit, explained that the projected development of the sector would encompass all areas such as research and development, mineral processing, manufacturing, marketing, mining, resource management, monitoring and the various laws that govern the industry.
Additionally, he said that the minerals industry was to be viewed as a single unit. In this case, there should be no differentiation between mines, quarries and their related processing operations. They will, collectively, be termed mineral operations. They impact on the environment in similar ways and given the necessary enabling mechanisms could all contribute meaningfully to economic growth, explained Mr. Rainford.
He said this approach allowed for better regulation and management of the industry and was in keeping with global trends.
Another major issue to be dealt with by the policy is the push to develop value added products, which could earn more for the country by substituting for items that are currently imported and providing more highly valued export.
Giving an example of a value added product, the director stated that locally, mined gold could be used to make special coins or other items, which specific types of limestone could be used to make grout, thin set or ceramic tiles and high quality limestone may be used in the manufacturing of paints, precipitated calcium carbonate, industrial lime, paper and many other products.
Mr. Rainford pointed out that in promoting value added products, the Ministry and its partners would also seek to strengthen research and development capabilities, as this meant “we will be able to bring to the market higher quality products and be able to get better prices for our minerals and the products emanating from them”.
The policy will also seek to put in place provisions to ensure the development of the necessary human capital and technical skills for the sector to progress.
These skills, which are vital to the sector’s development, include processing technology, marketing, mining, engineering and mine management, among others.Another issue to be covered is the need to ensure that mining is complementary to other forms of economic development including tourism and construction while mitigating negative environmental effects.(more)
A more organized minerals industry will be beneficial to direct stakeholders such as the Government, who should make additional revenue; private investors who have already made investment and those who are contemplating investment and citizens, as its plans should amount to increased output and increased levels of employment in minerals-related operations.
It will also make provisions to guard against encroachment on mineral-bearing lands and ensure that residents in communities in which minerals-related operations are sited, suffer minimal disturbance from the operations.
The policy document is currently being prepared by the Ministry of Land and Environment, through the National Minerals Policy Development Committee.
“This committee,” Mr. Rainford explained, “is a broad-based entity incorporating the views of a wide range of private and public sector entities involved in and having an interest in mining.”
It includes the National Environment and Planning Agency; the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Land and Environment; Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport; the Mining and Quarrying Association of Jamaica; Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology; Ministry of Industry and Tourism; the Jamaica Bauxite Institute; Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Bureau of Standards; the National Works Agency, the Quarry Advisory Committee; the Office of the Prime Minister; JAMPRO among others.
The policy will also aim to streamline incentives available to entities within the minerals sector.The committee began work on the policy in July 2003, and it is hoped that the document will be prepared in one year’s time.
The island has a range of minerals including gold, varying grades of limestone, marble, bauxite, gypsum, sand and aggregate.

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