The Jamaican Supreme Court halted mining of St. Ann’s Cockpit Country by Noranda Jamaica and New Day Aluminum (Jamaica) Limited earlier this month, jeopardizing the multi-decade deal the firms struck with the Jamaican government in 2018.
The court issued the injunction on January 17, halting bauxite mining operations at the Special Mining Lease (SML) 173 until a trial on the merits can be heard. Residents of the area raised issues regarding constitutional rights and significant injuries claimed as a result of previous mining in the area. Listed as defendants on the complaint are Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners (Noranda I), Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners II (Noranda II), New Day Aluminium (Jamaica) Limited (New Day), who are together referred to as “the Defendant Companies,” and the attorney general of Jamaica.
Among the assertions by the claimants are a breach of the right to life, the right to receive information, and the right to reside in any part of Jamaica. They say none of the bauxite mining companies working the site have done any study of the health effects of the bauxite dust produced at the site and have done little, if anything, to mitigate dangers to the life, health, and safety of nearby residents.
The six defendants claim a wide array of damages, including to their individual health, their homes, their crops, their drinking water, their livelihood, and, in one case, the death of a spouse.
The court granted the injunction on the basis that the claimants’ arguments are at least sustainable and arguable, and that their filing raises important questions regarding the various rights claims made in the initial complaint.
The current mining lease on the site began in 2018 and is set to run for 25 years with an additional renewal term of 25 years. The permit allows Noranda to harvest up to 5.2 million metric tons of bauxite ore each year.
Currently under the injunction the only work permitted is reclamation work.