Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government engaged in a rigorous and lengthy process ahead of granting permit for mining to take place in the Puerto Bueno Mountain also known as Dry Harbour Mountain in St. Ann.
Speaking in St. Ann yesterday (November 12), the Prime Minister noted that it is not the intention of the Government to destroy the country’s asset. Instead, the Government is committed to preserving, promoting and protecting the natural environment.
“Any decision about development has to be made with the environment first and foremost in mind, so if we are going to build, if we are going to mine, environmental considerations are always foremost in our minds. Before we act as a Government, we go through the steps and procedures always knowing that any action that is taken as a public official is open to review, it is open to review by the public, it is open to review by the courts and so we always try to be exceptionally careful,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister stated that the developers must adhere to the 71 conditions of the permit and he also outlined that the development plan for Puerto Bueno Mountain, does not only include mining but a wider scope for development which have been put into phases. He further underscored that mining is one of the economic drivers for the economy.
“The people who mine will have to absorb the social costs of the mining, which is why you have buffer zones, which is why they have to put up a bond, which is why they have to hire the environmental professionals. So we have taken a very comprehensive approach and I think that this is one that can withstand scrutiny and we welcome the scrutiny – there is nothing we have to hide please come, look at what we are doing, make your comments and this is not new, other countries have done it,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In that regard Prime Minister Holness asserted that the country has to look ahead in formalizing more comprehensive ways of promoting economic activity while preserving the environment.
“Jamaica has to develop the capacity to utilize its natural resources but in a way that preserves and promotes and protects the environment and that is how we will have to proceed as we seek to have sustainable development,” Prime Minister Holness said.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness assured the nation that the Government is doing all it can to balance its considerations to protect lives, livelihoods and the environment.
“I’m not one given to wild and thoughtless decisions, it is considered and it is done always from my heart for the best interest of the people. We are not looking to destroy our environment and it hurts me deeply when people accuse me of that. We are not looking to deprive anyone of the lovely vistas and the salubrious environment of that area and I believe that we are smart enough, innovative enough and we have the capacity to manage these economic enterprises.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the official opening and dedication ceremony of Ministry of Labour and Social Security – St. Ann Parish office in honour of the late former Minister of Labour and Social Security and Member of Parliament, the Honourable Shahine Robinson.