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Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, has urged stakeholders in the industrial minerals sector to restore exploited lands, so that these areas could be utilized for other purposes.
Addressing the opening of a three-day workshop on best practises in the extractive minerals industry today (Dec. 11) at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Minister Clarke said, “particular attention must be paid to environmental stewardship and proper land use management. This means that the timely land rehabilitation is essential”.
Noting the significance of mining, quarrying and related manufacturing activities to the Jamaican economy, Mr. Clarke said that during 2005, the manufacturing industry accounted for some 5.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), earning some US$650 million, while directly employing more than 6,000 persons. “This sector also indirectly contributed to the employment of at least a further 40,000 persons in areas such as construction, transportation, engineering and heavy equipment management,” he stated. The Lands Minister urged stakeholders to work with the government and private sector organisations to promote the growth and development of the industry. “We must look beyond local markets and move to position ourselves as major players in the Caribbean and indeed in Latin America. This should not only include raw materials, but more importantly, value added products, where there is much potential for growth and for economic gains,” he stated.
In the meantime, he informed that the Ministry was close to completing a National Minerals Policy, which would assist in the management of the country’s mineral wealth, guide the sustainable development of the sector and assist in positioning Jamaica as a major player in the wider Caribbean.
“This policy will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment to accelerate growth and continued development of the industry. We really want to transform our minerals industry into a modern, diversified, efficient and attractive sector, which co-exists with competing interests in the wider economy,” he added.
Minister Clarke noted that the government was cognizant of the many challenges to developing minerals-related businesses and the industry in general and was working to establish the appropriate legislative and institutional arrangements.