JIS News

Acting Commissioner of Mines, Clinton Thompson, has said the fines for non-compliance with mining regulations have been upped to encourage compliance among mining companies.
According to Mr. Thompson, this comes in response to complaints from communities that, “there are unsightly pits that remain year after year and not addressed”.
Speaking to JIS News today (November 15), at a Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) workshop on the rehabilitation of mined-out lands, held at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Mr. Thompson said that after a period not exceeding three years after mining operations were concluded in any area, the holder of the mining lease should return every hectare of land disturbed for mining to the level of agricultural productivity or the other uses for which the lands were used before mining.
“The holder of a mining lease who fails to obtain a certificate [after three years] under Regulation 54, shall pay to the Commissioner, on behalf of the Government, the sum of US$25,000 per hectare,” he stressed.
The Acting Commissioner said that prior to 2004, the fine was approximately US$11,000 per hectare, but this was increased.
According to Mr. Thompson, where a mining pit was not restored even after the US$25,000 fine was paid, within the stipulations of the mining law, “the holder of the lease shall, for each year which the pit remains ‘unrestored’, pay an additional sum of US$2,500 or the equivalent per hectare”, adding that these fines would accrue for as long as the pit remained unrestored.
However, he pointed out that there was room for discretion, and that the Commissioner might extend the three-year period, but this would only take place “if the lessee satisfies the Commissioner that such an extension is reasonably warranted”.
“As it relates to the regulations governing the restoration of mined-out lands, it is very important in any jurisdiction that there are laws that adequately address the way we conduct our restoration activities,” he emphasized.
Mr. Thompson further noted that on the matter of legislation, Jamaica has “been very pro-active and in some respects, leaders in this regard. We have done a number of amendments over the years to make sure that we are abreast of developments in the industry”.
The Acting Commissioner pointed out that the amended mining laws applied to all mining interests and not only those in bauxite.
He told JIS News that as of August 2004, there were amendments to the regulations. He said many of the changes were done to impact expediency rehabilitation on mined-out lands, as clauses of the previous laws were susceptible to misinterpretation.
“We established a time period within which restoration should be carried out. What existed before was that the law spoke to ‘as soon as’ and ‘as soon as’ can be very subjective, depending on which angle you are looking from, so we removed that area and increased the fines for mined-out lands that have not been restored,” he pointed out.
Mr. Thompson urged bauxite companies to adhere to the laws governing the restoration of mined-out lands.
“We have been working with a number of companies. Some have been quite pro-active and are ahead of schedule. Others need a little nudging and this is why we have amended the law as the carrot to ensure that we have full compliance,” he told JIS News.