Ministry Treating Rehabilitation of Mined-Out Lands with Urgency


Minister of State in the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications, Laurence Broderick, has reiterated that the Ministry takes seriously and treats with urgency the challenges, as well as the socio-economic and environmental concerns associated with the rehabilitation of mined lands.
Making his contribution in the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives recently, Mr. Broderick noted that the Ministry’s Mines and Geology Division (MGD) has responsibility for monitoring the rehabilitation of mined-out lands.
He pointed out that the Mining Regulations require that: mined-out lands be restored within three years after the completion of mining; failure to restore mined-out lands attracts a penalty of US$25,000 per hectare, up from US$11,000.00, while failure to restore lands within the stipulated three years attracts an additional penalty of US$2,500.00 per hectare for each year during which the piece of land remains un-restored. “As at the end of 2007, the total acreages disturbed since the inception of bauxite mining in 1952 was 7,944.40 hectares. Of this amount, 5,224.03 hectares or 64 per cent had been certified by the Commissioner of Mines as having been satisfactorily restored. The remaining 36 per cent of the acreages disturbed, was at different stages of mining and rehabilitation,” he noted, adding that since the introduction of the above-mentioned penalties in 2004, the quantity of land certified has increased by over 70 per cent.
Mr. Broderick reported that the Jamaica Bauxite Industry (JBI) and the bauxite mining companies have carried out crop experiments on rehabilitated lands that have shown their suitability to produce several crops.
These include: scotch bonnet pepper, sweet pepper, peanuts, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower, cassava, sweet potato, red peas, pineapple and string bean. He informed that the yields of these crops were as good as, or better than the national average on lands that have never been mined, and implored Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton to work closer with his Ministry to design programmes that would facilitate the best uses of these lands.
In addition, Minister Broderick informed that the performance of companies in the rehabilitation programme, all sought to restore the lands that were used. These companies include Alumina Partners of Jamaica (ALPART), West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco) and St. Ann Bauxite Limited (SABL).
“ALPART restored over 300 hectares to agricultural production in Manchester and St. Elizabeth. These lands have been leased to tenant farmers who are producing sweet potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, peanuts, tomatoes, yams and raising goats and cattle,” he said. The State Minister noted that with regards to Windalco, in 2007 approximately 200 hectares of crops were planted on mined-out lands yielding some 150 tonnes, adding that “there are roughly 790 farmers producing cash crops, orchard crops and raising livestock on mined-out lands in Manchester under the tenant farmer programme.”
In addition, SABL since 2003, has been rehabilitated to crops some 109 hectares.
“I believe these efforts are commendable and should not go unnoticed. After all, the sector is usually on the receiving end of so much harsh and negative criticism. We have now arrived at a juncture where we need to move beyond the mere rehabilitation process,” he pointed out.
He added that the Ministry was moving to integrate these lands and infrastructure such as wells, haul roads and buildings created by the mining companies into the community and national development process.
Mr. Broderick noted that this approach, requires long-term, broad-based and integrated planning involving agencies of the state, such as the Town and Country Planning Authority (TCPA), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the National Works Agency (NWA) and the respective Parish Councils.
“The result is that mining becomes more intertwined into national and community development. The lands in particular could be used to drive development, including the construction of new townships,” he said. Additionally, he said, the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP), established in 1996 and managed by the JBI in collabroation with several stakeholders, especially the Joint Bauxite Community Councils, continues to empower communities near bauxite mining and alumina processing facilities. This is done by re-investing a portion of the earnings from the sector in long-term sustainable projects in these communities. These projects include infrastructure development, investments in agriculture, small enterprises, and skills training.
On another matter, Mr. Broderick noted that the management of the country’s mineral-bearing lands is important. “We have traditionally used moral suasion to convince persons not to build on mineral-bearing lands,” he said, adding that there is currently a Bauxite Land Management Committee (BLMC), which is responsible for the management of bauxite-bearing lands. “This needs to be made more effective and to consider the management of other mineral-bearing lands,” he said.
He posited that once the BLMC was working effectively, the sector would seek to expand its role into becoming the National Mineral-Bearing Lands Management Committee (NMBLMC).
The NMBLMC will focus on: the effective rehabilitation of all mined lands and their timely release to prospective end users; establishing and managing the zoning, allocation and use of mineral-bearing lands.

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