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Noranda stays loyal to Cockpit Country despite opposition to mining

Monday, September 09, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Noranda Jamaica Bauxite says it is committed to continue open and frank dialogue with local communities in and around the Cockpit Country, to clarify any misunderstandings in relation to its operations there.

The company also said, in a release issued over the weekend, that it will continue its “longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship with the Government of Jamaica and the Jamaican people”, despite the current issues surrounding its mining operations.

Noranda Jamaica entered into a 26-year mining lease with the Government in 2004. However, it was discovered in 2017 that portions of the leased land fell within the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA). The company said it has cooperated with the Government and agreed to arrangements for its mining activities to be relocated to areas that fall outside the boundaries of the CCPA.

But, despite their cooperation with the authorities, Noranda has come under attack from activist environmental groups and politicians who have stepped up their demand that mining is also forbidden outside the boundaries of the protected area.

In its weekend release, Noranda said it wished to remind the public that the company is not conducting any mining activity that encroaches on the CCPA, and has not made any application to do so.

According to General Manager Delroy Dell, Noranda fully supports the zero mining policy adopted by the Government in relation to the CCPA, which was designated in 2017 following several scientific studies and widespread consultations with all stakeholders, including specifically prominent Jamaican environmentalists.

“Furthermore, Noranda's Special Mining Lease (SML 173) covers land wholly outside the CCPA and, while containing 8,335 hectares, the company anticipates mining only 15 per cent of that area,” Dell added.

He also noted that a fundamental principle of all aspects of their operations, and a key reason why they have been able to operate in harmony with their communities, is that they not only mine bauxite but implement environmentally friendly long-term projects that allow residents to derive greater economic and social benefits from their surrounding environment.

In addition, Noranda noted that they work hard to ensure the lands they mine are effectively reclaimed for beneficial use by local farmers and residents alike.

''We are not only a leader in Jamaica with our reclamation activities, but we have been recognised around the world for our reclamation and greenhouse initiatives,'' Dell noted.

He said that precluding Noranda from mining the reserves granted to it in SML 173, all of which fall outside of the CCPA, will result in Noranda mining 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 4000 indirect jobs, and the millions of US dollars in export earnings, taxes and other outgoings, that the company contributes to the Jamaican economy,” Dell stated.

—Balford


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