On March 10, 2020 the island recorded its first imported case of the coronavirus.
Since then the number of confirmed cases has risen to over 700, and 10 persons have died.
The past four months have therefore been challenging for the Mines and Geology Division (MGD) as internal operations have had to be adjusted and safeguards implemented to ensure the safe execution of our duties.
The Mines and Geology Division has the statutory responsibility, under the Mining Act and the Quarries Control Act, to exercise general supervision over all prospecting, mining and quarrying operations throughout the island. The Evaluation and Revenue Unit of the MGD is charged with ensuring the timely remittance of royalties payable on bauxite/ alumina and other minerals as well as the collection of taxes due on quarry materials sold or otherwise disposed of.
Despite the economic uncertainty resulting from the onset of the coronavirus, the MGD forecasts that it will meet revenue collection targets set for the 2020/2021 financial year.
The targets set are J$500 million in royalties and J$90 million in quarry tax.
For the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year (April to June) we have collected J$24.7 million in quarry taxes and J$94.26 million in royalties.
An update of the Division’s performance during this period will be attained after July 2020 as returns and payments for each quarter are due within 30 days of the end of the quarter.
Shipments of bauxite and alumina have been stable from all operational plants for the January to June 2020 period. The pandemic has negatively impacted the administrative functions of some of the quarrying operations.
This was evidenced in the many late return submissions and payments made for the January to March quarter of 2020 which would have been due during April. In order to encourage greater levels of compliance the MGD has increased its customer engagement.
“The remainder of 2020 looks quite promising for the Minerals Industry,” says Roy Nicholson, the Commissioner of Mines.
“Local consumption of quarry material should rebound as national infrastructure projects are executed throughout the remainder of the year,” he continued.
Some of the projects are; the expansion of the PJ Paterson Highway – where work has already started on the May Pen to Mandeville leg, the road work from Port Antonio to Harbour View, and several hotels under construction across the country.
The mining industry continues to play its role as a major contributor the nation’s economy.