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The University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica has launched a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree in Mines and Quarry Management.

Development of the degree was supported through grant funding under the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States-European Union (EU) Development Minerals Programme.

The capacity-building initiative aims to build the profile and improve the management of development minerals, including industrial and construction materials, and dimension and semi-precious stones.

It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States, financed by the EU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and implemented by UNDP.

Speaking at the launch ceremony at the Old Hope Road institution on Friday (September 17), Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Robert Montague, expressed gratitude to “our EU partners, who have funded the programme, and the UNDP that has been its implementer”.

He said that the degree programme represents another milestone in the continued advancement of the country’s mining and minerals sector through the provision of tertiary-level training and certification of personnel.

He noted that “mineral extraction and mineral development require, among other prerequisites, trained and qualified personnel to ensure efficiency, environmental compatibility, safety and profitability”.

It is this regard, Minister Montague said, the Government, through the Mining Training School, is providing training for Jamaicans working in the sector.

Training of quarry managers and supervisors commenced in 2019 in partnership with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) at the Excelsior Community College (Kingston Campus).

It is the Government’s intention to lift the human resource standard within the mining sector through establishment of a Mining Management Institute that will provide training and certification of all workers.

The curriculum to be developed will focus on areas such as proper record-keeping; health and safety rules and systems; equipment selection and maintenance; resource evaluation; land rehabilitation and reclamation; energy efficiency, while reducing any negative impacts on the environment; and protecting people’s health.

Minister Montague expressed confidence that UTech’s curriculum for the BSc. in Mines and Quarry Management would cover these areas.

Noting that mining is a substantial part of the country’s economy, he said that the vast majority of materials needed to create the physical infrastructure, including the buildings, roads, and bridges, are provided by the sector.

He said that mining, particularly the quarrying segment, is one of those areas of economic activity that will grow even during periods of weak economic performance, as the materials are needed to maintain the physical infrastructure.

The mining sector contributed 2.4 per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product in in 2019 and accounted for 51 per cent of the country’s domestic export.

The ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme was implemented in Jamaica in 2016.

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