A Jamaican member of parliament has requested that the body consider re-instituting the levy on bauxite mining operations due to the damage done to areas around mining operations over the years.
Manchester Southern Member of Parliament Michael Stewart submitted the resolution earlier this week to the Economy and Production Committee of Jamaica’s House of Representatives, which the committee has already begun considering. Stewart’s motion also seeks restrictions upon the amount of money that may be moved from the capital development fund, saying that the expenditures from the fund have done little to improve communities dealing with damage from bauxite mining in the past.
Per Stewart, mining in the area has taken a toll on farmland and orchards, local infrastructure, and the overall health of individuals in the vicinity of mining operations. He also questioned exactly how profit-sharing proposals are meant to help people harmed by bauxite mining.
“They claim they don’t mash up the roads, but it is a hindrance for these trucks to be traversing these narrow roads, and then they’re telling the community that they’re not able to put in a haul road for another year,” opined fellow MP Mikael Phillips to the committee. “When NEPA [National Environment and Planning Agency] is granting the licence for hauling and mining [there should be] some infrastructure priorities that should be put in place, that should not hamper communities. [These] are some of the things we need to discuss.”
St. James Central MP Heroy Clarke cited the longstanding relationship between bauxite mining and the community, hoping aloud that such a beneficial partnering could continue.
“Bauxite has been part of the family for quite sometime and it is not going away, therefore, we must live as very good neighbours. The bauxite has to give as much as possible, you’re not asking for everything… But if it is that they’re unable to help with the roadway, then we can safely say that, ‘Okay, we are not going to allow you to drive on our roads,’ and we really don’t want that. We want a harmonious relationship, so we must have something in black and white to say that, ‘Okay, every three or five years they are going to do some amount of roadwork.’”
Additionally, problems with land reclamation were cited by other PMs as being an issue that must be addressed by bauxite mining concerns going forward if the mining arrangements were to continue.