Noranda says blocking its Special Mining Lease will hurt the economy

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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Noranda Bauxite Jamaica says that preventing it from mining bauxite reserves granted under Special Mining Lease (SML) 173 would have a serious impact on direct and indirect jobs, as well as export earnings and taxes it contributes to the Jamaican economy.
According to Noranda, if it is precluding from mining the reserves, all of which fall outside of the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA), it will be forced to mine lesser quality bauxite at much further haul distances.
“The resulting economic impact, which will be felt in the relatively near future, will jeopardise Noranda's ability to sustain the more than 800 direct and 4,000 indirect jobs, and the millions of US dollars in export earnings, taxes and other outgoings, that the company contributes to the Jamaican economy,” Noranda said.
Noranda was responding to stepped up threats from environmental activists protesting against the company's plans to start mining bauxite under the lease, which has been targeted despite the company pointing out that the lands designated for mining are outside the protected area.
The company stated that it is not conducting any mining activity that encroaches on the CCPA and has not made any application to do so.
“Noranda fully supports the zero-mining policy adopted by the Government of Jamaica in relation to the CCPA, which was designated by the Government in 2017, following several scientific studies and widespread consultations with all stakeholders, including specifically prominent Jamaican environmentalists,” Noranda said.
Furthermore, Noranda noted, its special mining lease covers land wholly outside the CCPA and, while containing 8,335 hectares, the company anticipates mining only 15 per cent of that area.
In 2004, Noranda entered into a 26-year mining lease with the Government. Upon the 2017 declaration of the CCPA, it was discovered that portions of the leased land fell within the designated area. Noranda said it fully cooperated with the Government and agreed arrangements for the company's mining activities to be relocated to areas that fall outside the boundaries of the CCPA.
Noranda's General Manager Delroy Dell noted that in 2017 extensive consultations were held with all stakeholders, regarding the boundaries for the proposed CCPA.
He pointed out that the Government's final decision took into consideration the recommendations of noted experts in a range of fields, including geology and biodiversity; environmental lobby groups, as well as residents in the area.
He said that with regard to the call by some for an expansion of the CCPA, it should be noted that the CCPA is already the largest protected area of its kind in Jamaica, and covers nearly 10 per cent of Jamaica's landmass, inclusive of over 70,000 hectares of contiguous broadleaf forest
“Even though the CCPA boundaries led to a loss in prime mining areas for Noranda Jamaica Bauxite, we accepted, and have since been guided by the decision, given the environmental importance of the Cockpit Country,” Dell argued.
He said that it is beyond doubt that bauxite mining continues to be a mainstay of the Jamaican economy.
“Dozens of communities and Noranda are committed to both the company and the country engaging in the required balance between economic development and the protection of the environment,” Dell said.
He added that a fundamental principle of all aspects of Noranda's operations, and a key reason the the company has been able to operate in harmony with the communities, is that it not only mines bauxite, but also implements environmentally friendly long-term projects that allow residents to derive greater economic and social benefits from their surrounding environment.
In addition, Dell noted that the company works hard to ensure that the lands it mines are effectively reclaimed for beneficial use by local farmers and residents alike.


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