KINGSTON — The Ministry of Energy and Mining is projecting the creation of up to 2,000 jobs within the local mining sector over the next 10 years.
The projection is based on the extent of associated activities resulting from the full implementation of the National Policy on Minerals Development 2010 – 2030.
Principal Director of the Ministry’s Policy Planning and Minerals Division, Oral Rainford, said that once the policy is put into operation, certain specialist skills will be required for the sector. These include: expertise in mining engineering, mineral economics, mine development, and transport fleet management.
“These will become more important and in demand, largely because we are speaking, now, about complex operations emerging… which are much larger, in many instances, than many of those which we currently have,” Mr. Rainford stated at the final in the series of public consultations on the policy held recently at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s (PCJ) auditorium in Kingston.
He noted that other activities such as, welding, surveying, the management of large vehicles, environmental and waste management, will also become important, so too a range of other specialists such as surveyors, innovators, people who are developing new products, chemists, geo-chemists, geo-physicists.
The national minerals policy aims to ensure that Jamaica’s mineral wealth supports and contributes to sustainable national development and prosperity and its implementation, over the next 10 years, is projected to cost approximately $1.2 billion. The money will be spent on, among other things, institutional strengthening, infrastructural development, research, community development and training.
Mr. Rainford informed that some $6.2 million has been spent on developing the policy over the last six years and preparation of the final draft for submission to Cabinet by March, coupled with the series of islandwide consultations and other attendant activities are expected to push the figure up to about $8 million.
Mr. Rainford said all of the funds to be spent are expected to be recovered, overtime. He stated that with its anticipated growth and expansion, the mining sector is expected to become more profitable.
“We are of the view, and the estimates are clear, that increased tax earnings will provide the Government with an avenue through which much of the funds will be recovered. Additionally, (there is) import substitution. We have got to move away from vast quantities of minerals, which are being imported. We can produce much of these locally, and we are going to move in that direction,” he contended.
Jamaica’s minerals sector comprises three major segments: the bauxite/alumina sector; industrial minerals comprising non-metallic and non-fuel elements such as limestone, gypsum, gravel, and sand; and the precious and base metals sector, incorporating activities such as the gold mine operations in Pennants, Clarendon.
While noting that the latter sector is currently “not very active,” Mr. Rainford contended that it “can be of particular value”.
He pointed out that bauxite and limestone comprise the majority of Jamaica’s mineral deposits and based on recently revised data, the country’s bauxite deposits currently stand at between two and 2.2 billion tonnes.
Additionally, he said, there is in excess of three billion tonnes of limestone, noting that a “good 120 tonnes are mineable… (and) in a number of instances (of) exceptionally good quality.”
By Douglas McIntosh