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Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, has said that the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) has become a major participant and advocate for the role of the bauxite industry in the development of the society.
Professor Hall was speaking at the Bauxite and Alumina Industry Essay Competition Awards ceremony, yesterday (February 21), at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
“We want today, to acknowledge its work (the Bauxite Institute) in appreciating the social and economic impact of the industry on the lives of our communities and especially those communities adjoining the bauxite operations,” he said.
Professor Hall also pointed to the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP), managed by the JBI, which was established by the government in 1996 to assist residents of bauxite mining communities. “Since it started (BCDP), it has funded over 220 projects at a total cost of $230 million. It is reported that over 50,000 persons in more than a hundred rural communities, have benefited from special projects in agriculture, repairs to schools and community facilities, skills training and small business development,” he informed.
The Governor-General further highlighted the achievements of the BCDP in the area of education. “Since its establishment, the Bauxite Community Development Programme has participated in expanding schools.back to school assistance, valued at about $2.5 million each year, for about 250 students,” he said.
The JBI is an institution that guides the Government on the development of the bauxite industry, through technical expertise.
Professor Hall also said that the topic of the essay competition ‘Bauxite Alumina Companies and Community Development in Jamaica’ allowed for competitors to understand why much emphasis is placed on the development of individuals and communities. “Such issues as sustainability of the ecosystems, the impact of biodiversity, climate change on future human existence, should all lead us to consider how we should conduct our affairs, and these essays provide a framework for doing research on those topics,” he said.
Executive Director of the JBI, Parris Lyew-Ayee, in his remarks, said the bauxite and alumina industry continues to be one of Jamaica’s main economic strengths and that the industry, along with tourism and remittances, are the principal foreign exchange earners for the country.
“Bauxite and alumina bring in little over US$1.4 billion per year and will continue to be a main provider for our economy for a long time,” he said.The Executive Director also stressed the need for students to recognize the importance of the industry. “This essay competition, I think, will help you the young people to do the research and to see and recognize the importance of this industry and why you need to fight for it to continue to be important for our country,” Mr. Lyew-Ayee said.
“I think that when you start to do this research, you will start to see its importance. Yes, there are challenges but life would be so boring without these challenges and that’s why we are trying to have you do so well in schools to come out to address these challenges,” he said.
“The aluminum industry has a very bright future. At one time in the 60’s, Jamaica was number one in the world. With time things have changed, but we are still a significant player. We are now number five in the world, producing about 10 per cent of bauxite and alumina and we can continue to do this for a long time. But we are going to need young people to be stepping up to the bat, stepping up to take over the different areas in the industry to be able to carry it forward and which is why we are so happy about the participation this year,” the Executive Director said.
Malike Kellier, a fifth form student from Cornwall College in St. James, won the competition. Kerri-Ann Tingle of Guys Hill High in St. Catherine and Jubilee Brown of Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha Academy) in Kingston placed second and third, respectively.