Workers at Noranda’s operations in Jamaica sought clarity from Opposition Leader Peter Phillips on Friday regarding the People’s National Party’s (PNP) stance on continuing protests against Noranda’s operations in Cockpit Country.
Per local media, Phillips was confronted by Noranda workers during a tour of the firm’s St. Ann operations. Noranda workers peppered him with questions regarding allowing bauxite mining to resume at Special Mining Lease 173.
The site of SML 173 was previously declared to be outside the bounds of Cockpit Country Protected Area by Jamaican mining regulators, but protesters fear that operations in the mining lease will disrupt the Protected Area and the local environment.
Noranda’s miners assured Phillips that the company has no plans to mine within the Protected Area, and that the firm acknowledges and respects the heritage of the area. Bauxite mining provides a livelihood for hundreds of Jamaican workers at the mine and thousands who work in support services and in the local economy in general, the workers reminded him.
Workers also said they were disappointed in the failure to include them in the tour of operations at St. Ann.
Phillips told the assembled workers that his party is not opposed to bauxite mining, but it is insistent that mining be done in a sustainable manner and that bauxite miners bear in mind the benefits and well-being of the entirety of stakeholders in the bauxite value chain.