Jamaica’s finance minister Nigel Clarke said last week that the country’s levy on extracted bauxite brought in US$2 billion in revenue last year.
Responding to questions posed by Opposition mining spokesman Phillip Paulwell in the House of Representatives, Clarke said that many of the payments were late payments brought in thanks to the efforts of former mining minister Robert Montague.
“It was due to the good work of that former minister that we collected $2 billion in bauxite levy in the last few months.”
Included in the US$2 billion was US$13.7 million paid by UC Rusal and an asset-usage fee of US$3.4 million accrued by New Day/Noranda paid by successor in interest Concord Resources.
Additionally, UC Rusal has agreed to pay the portion in arrears over the next two years along with keeping up with current amounts due as they are accrued.
“Whatever is due currently has to be paid on time,” Montague noted. “However, the payments are being made to the Ministry of Finance not the Ministry of Mining.”
Though support for the bauxite levy is waning in some quarters of the bauxite industry, Clarke said it is important for the communities in which bauxite mining is carried out to continue to collect it.
“What I think is absolutely necessary, is that, as the bauxite levy revenues come in and a concerted effort is made to ensure that the communities from which this precious resource flows, that if their needs are with respect to water, for example, these needs are addressed.”
Meanwhile, Paulwell posited the idea that a committee of MPs should be formed to liaise between communities where bauxite is mined and the firms that mine it.
“I am making the point that the Jamaican people are upset with the industry, not only because of the Cockpit Country issue, but because of not seeing the real benefits,” he explained. “So, if you could establish a committee of parliamentarians who are directly affected, then it would satisfy my concerns at this time.”