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The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) continues its research on soil productivity on reclaimed mined-out lands in the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Ann and Trelawny.
As set out in the JBI’s 2005/06 annual report, which was tabled in the House of Representatives earlier this week, the primary objective of its Soil Assessment and Productivity Project is to increase the yield of these lands, and consequently, the income of farmers. To this end, the JBI in 2005 established a nursery at its Hope Gardens premises in Kingston, as part of the effort to control the quality of seedlings, which are supplied to farmers in mining communities. “The JBI has a vested interest in seeing that all the crops being cultivated in the nursery are appropriate for the type of soil found in the reclaimed bauxite areas. Research has shown that the crops currently being produced – scotch bonnet pepper, West Indian pepper, nutmeg, and pimento – are ideal for farming on reclaimed mined-out bauxite land,” the document states. Meanwhile, there was an increase in the demand for analytical services of the JBI in 2005, particularly in the areas of processability and quantitative and qualitative mineralogical analysis. The Institute received samples for testing from countries, including Ghana, Guinea and Brazil, and has recently been approached by Suriname. To assist with the increased volume of testing, the report says, the JBI installed an automated alumina analysis machine, which allows for the testing of more samples in a shorter period of time than was possible annually.
The Institute also continued work with a transnational company in the development of processing additives for the alumina processing industry, using its pilot plant facility. The JBI also continued to monitor bauxite alumina facilities, inclusive of mining, processing and shipping operations. The programme focused on air quality management, water quality management and waste management. This was achieved through site visits, regular environmental reviews, audits and independent sampling. The effect of hurricanes was also monitored. Personnel made regular visits to all bauxite and alumina facilities throughout the year to verify checks and to ascertain the level of progress made with regard to the implementation of measures for improving environmental quality. In addition, steps were taken to minimize dust emissions at the source and these included the use of dust suppression techniques in the mining areas as well as the installation and upgrading of dust control equipment at the alumina plants. Measures were also taken to control the frequency of episodic releases through the implementation of programmes of preventive maintenance and pollution control.
Verification monitoring of water resources continued at sample points agreed on by the Water Resources Authority. This was done on a quarterly basis, with results generated by the JBI comparing favourably with the data submitted by the companies. On air quality management, the report states that, “the bauxite and alumina facilities have generally complied with the air quality standards and where there were breaches, the JBI requested and received action plans”.
The impact of the industry on the health of communities located close to mining operations is being investigated through health impact assessments, while the terms of reference for the Environmental Health Unit are being developed, facilitated by the JBI.