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There are potentially large deposits of rare earth elements at a location in Jamaica, says Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague.
Speaking in the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 26, the Minister said the discovery came as a result of a recent survey.
He emphasised that the rare earth elements are critical to the growth of the green- sustainable economy worldwide, and more testing will be conducted.
The Minister pointed out that updates will be given once it is commercially advisable.
Mr. Montague said it is proven that Jamaica’s red mud possesses rare earth elements, but the methods and costs of extraction pose a concern.
“The Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) is actively looking at new methodologies to do so and we have not given up on this project,” he added.
Mr. Montague said that the Ministry is also seeking legal advice on Jamaica’s rights to new metals found in red mud that are held in the United States.
“One thought is that the licence granted was for bauxite and our law (The Mining Act) says if you have a licence to mine one item and in the process you find another, you must inform the Commissioner, get his permission and ultimately pay your royalty,” he argued.
Meanwhile, the Minister said it is also a school of thought that once a licence has been granted and the product is shipped outside of Jamaica, the country has no rights to the residue.
He pointed out that Jamaica, through Jamaica Bauxite Mining Limited, owns 17.33 per cent of the profits of the overseas entity, regardless of the difference in thoughts put forward.