KINGSTON — Environmental issues will be among the key points for discussion at the upcoming series of public consultations on the Draft Minerals Policy, to be hosted by the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM).
The document is entitled, The National Minerals Policy: Fostering Sustainability in Jamaica's Minerals Industry. The month-long consultations, set to begin on October 26, will cover major parishes where mining takes place and others deemed important to the sector.
The environmental discussions are expected to focus on the impact, or likely impact, on the environment of the local mining sector, especially in light of a renewal in mining operations.
This was disclosed by Principal Director (policy) in the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Oral Rainford, who told JIS News that the Ministry is mindful of the concerns, and has held discussions with and signed off on co-operative agreements with several key environmental lobby and NGO groups.
“This policy recognizes the fact that we cannot undermine the environment, because the quicker we do that, the quicker we engineer our own destruction. We have ensured that we work very closely with NEPA and will not take certain actions without their input,” he stated.
Mr. Rainford noted that certain approvals have to be given by the National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA) and no-one else.
He also pointed out that it would be totally naive of anyone, especially those in the sector, not to pay close attention to environmental concerns and embrace good environmental stewardship. Therefore, as part of adopted best practices for the sector, mined lands will be rehabilitated to meet several needs, aside from reforestation.
“We are rehabilitating lands to be used for housing, for catchment, for commercial activities and for other things. These are things that will be done at a fraction of what the cost would be, if they were done independently of mining,” he stated.
The consultations are expected to be in St. Thomas, Clarendon Manchester, St. Catherine and St. Elizabeth and other parishes of interest to the sector.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS Information Officer