JIS News

The need for strong and effective regulation to guard against exploitation of the country’s mineral resources was stressed during consultations on the development of a National Minerals Policy, held at the St. Theresa Catholic Church Hall in St. Mary on Monday (Dec. 8).
The forum, organized by the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications was part of a series of islandwide consultations being staged to discuss the draft policy document, and solicit the input of civil society in the document’s formulation.
Concerns raised by participants, include: the impact of sand mining on infrastructural development in St. Mary; the resulting effects of erosion on communities; and the possible negative environmental effect of river training activities conducted by the National Works Agency (NWA) in some communities.
Some of the recommendations proposed include: application of a community development levy to be paid by companies involved in sand mining and quarrying; and the empowerment of citizens to challenge the granting of mining licences to companies and individuals, whose activities are deemed detrimental to communities.
Addressing the meeting, Senior Director of Policy Planning Development in the Ministry, Oral Rainford, noted that minerals are valuable and finite resources, which are key to development. As such, he said, there is need to regulate activities involving these to guard against their exploitation, and maximize the benefits which can be derived from their usage.
Noting that mining is an “age old” activity in Jamaica, Mr. Rainford stated that, currently, there is no policy guiding activities pertaining to the country’s minerals. This, he added, has given rise to concerns raised in several communities contiguous to mining activities, about the operations of some of the sector’s entities.
In giving the assurance that the concerns raised during the forum should be addressed when the National Minerals Policy is formulated, Mr. Rainford emphasised that the mining industry has to exist in harmony with “competing interests” to ensure the success of the sustainable development process in the country.
Pointing out that the primary objectives of drafting the policy are the creation of a single modern mineral resources industry, that is profitable and capable of co-existing with competing interests, while contributing to national development, Mr. Rainford said the National Minerals Policy will seek to promote the effective management of the mining industry, mineral resources, and mineral-bearing lands from the pre-mining to the post mining stage.

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