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A recommendation for the convening of public consultations to discuss issues pertaining to the exploration for bauxite in the Cockpit Country is being proposed by consultants, who were commissioned to do a study on the area in January 2007.
The need for the study, arose out of concerns expressed by several non-governmental environmental organisations and citizens, regarding an application by ALCOA Minerals of Jamaica, for the renewal of the bauxite company’s Special Exclusive Prospecting Licence (SEPL) no. 535.
Minister of Information, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Olivia Grange, told journalists at Wednesday’s (Jan. 21) post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House, that the study, which generated a report entitled: ‘Defining the Boundaries of the Cockpit Country’, was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team from the University of the West Indies, Mona. The report was reviewed by Cabinet at its weekly meeting on Monday (Jan. 19), Ms. Grange informed.
“This category of licence gives a mining or exploration company the sole right to carry out mineral exploration activities for a given mineral or minerals within an area, defined by the licence,” the Minister outlined.
The licence, she added, would have allowed ALCOA’s local company Jamalco, to continue exploring for bauxite over an area of 510.25 km2, within sections of St. Ann and Trelawny.
According to Ms. Grange, the study was initially slated for completion in September 2007, but was delayed as a result of a number of “intervening factors”.
The final version of the study, she said, was completed and submitted to the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications in December 2008.
In the meantime, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) is doing a survey in the Cockpit Country to determine archaeological sites that should be declared national monuments.