Think bigger, Minister Paulwell

Thursday, February 07, 2013

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Dear Editor,

While it is good that mining minister Philip Paulwell is pushing for Jamaica to start the process of developing its rare earth industry, I cannot help but wonder why is it that we seem forever stuck in this cycle of thinking inside the box.

Nothing is wrong with the attempt of the Government to extract rare earths from our red mud. Indeed, this effort of the government must be commended. However, if Jamaica is to truly develop, we have to start thinking outside of the box.

The primary focus of Minister Paulwell seems to be to get the project to a stage where we can export rare earths in commercial quantities. Again, nothing is wrong here. But why don't we look at ways to develop our own industrial base with these rare earth minerals?

We are now hoping to export these minerals to Japan. What does Japan plan to do with these minerals? They plan to develop their own advanced electronic industries. Why can't we also begin to think like this? Why must we always be willing to supply the minerals that others use to develop their own industries, while we suffer?

We did the same with bauxite, and now we are about to do the same with these rare earth minerals. When will we ever learn?

One of the reasons why there is such a global shortage of these rare earths is because China, the world's largest exporter, is curtailing its exports. It is not just because they want to save what they have left for their own future generations — it's also because they want to start developing their own advanced industries as well.

Exporting these minerals is a good thing, but I was hoping that the minister would be thinking outside of the box and look at how we can develop our own industrial base with these minerals as well.

Think bigger, Mr Paulwell.

Michael A Dingwall




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