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JIS News

Executive Director of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, Parris Lyew-Ayee, has said that Jamaica’s all encompassing approach in pre and post mining bauxite operations was a model for many developing countries with a similarly thriving bauxite sector.
The JBI Executive Director, who was addressing a workshop on ‘Experiences in using reclaimed bauxite lands for agriculture’ at the Terra Nova Hotel yesterday (November 15), told JIS News that prompt and sustained reclamation exercises have been a longstanding element of the bauxite industry’s operation ethics, and that this was refined over time to put Jamaica way ahead of many other developed countries.
“From 1944, we had in our mining laws and regulations aspects with regard to reclamation and the tight schedules there. The United States only started to put in regulations in the 1980s, and many countries have come to see what we have done here,” he said.
Pointing out that there were some challenges in the area of sustainable land reclamation in Jamaica, Mr. Lyew-Ayee said “it is very difficult to overcome but these are being addressed.”
Furthermore, he stated that although there was legislation in place to bolster the JBI’s thrust to return mined out lands to profitable use, the wider public had a role to play in the process of maintaining Jamaica’s enviable legacy.
“The JBI and the Commissioner of Mines have direct responsibility and take this very seriously, but we also seek to look beyond this and we want to make sure that ‘life after bauxite’ is achieved. We need to look beyond what we are doing now in terms of what will be happening in the future,” he said.
Mr. Lyew-Ayee noted that it was pursuant to this imperative that the JBI was partnering with the local Parish Councils, town planning authorities, environment and planning agencies and parish development committees.
“We also have the Bauxite Community Development Programme spearheaded by the JBI, where we work with the community councils,” the JBI Head explained, adding that this was an important plank in the Institute’s efforts, as it was these communities that would have endured the nuisance concomitant with mining. On the other hand, he said that if reclamation efforts were continuously successful, then these communities would be future beneficiaries.
On the matter of sustainability, Mr. Lyew-Ayee emphasised that although the ideal aim was to return mined out lands to their pre-mined states, there was need for a realistic outlook with regards to land rehabilitation. Instead, he said, best needs analyses are being conducted.
He said that whereas some communities would be best suited with rehabilitated lands for agricultural purposes, others needed this land for community housing, road infrastructure and forest cover.
“All these go into the planning for how we see these areas down the line 20 to 30 years ahead of us,” he said, underscoring the importance of an industry-wide collaboration of best practices in land reuse.
“Anyone who is failing or making errors, it reflects across the board. There are excellent performers in the industry, and this is what is expected, but when there is a blunder you don’t hear individual names being called, it’s the bauxite industry, so we need to make sure that in this case, we truly are our brother’s keepers,” he pointed out.
Mr. Lyew-Ayee said this would go a far way in maintaining the integrity of Jamaica’s bauxite industry as a leader.