Gov't will not revoke special mining lease, says Montague

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 22, 2019

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THE Government will not revoke Special Mining Lease (SML) 173, which has been granted to Noranda Bauxite Jamaica to mine in the Cockpit Country.

This is the answer from Minister of Transport and Mining Robert Montague to questions tabled by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Ronald Thwaites (Central Kingston) in the House of Representatives.

Thwaites had asked the minister, in September, whether or not the Government intends to revoke the mining lease.

Montague tabled his responses in Parliament on Tuesday, informing the House of Representatives that the lease will not be revoked.

“However, proposals to amend its boundaries are being considered and will be implemented,” the minister told the House.

“The Government of Jamaica reserves the right to modify or revoke any mining lease it deems necessary and in the national interest,” Montague added.

Noranda already has SML 165 and 172 for the purpose of mining in sections of the Cockpit Country.

However, a groundswell of objections developed following the granting of a third licence, SML 173, by environmental activists and residents opposed to the activity close to the already Government-defined Cockpit Country Designated Area.

The dissenters range from people opposed to the adjacency of the third site to the protected area, to those who are against mining anywhere in the Cockpit Country and who are supported by overseas bodies and people opposed to bauxite mining.

In the meantime, the parties are awaiting a report on the environmental impact study which has been commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Mining.

Thwaites had also asked the minister to state the reason for the delay in publishing an environmental impact assessment report he said was done by Conrad Douglas and Associates, a local environmental consultancy firm.

Montague's response is that it is his understanding that the National Environment and Planning Agency has concerns regarding the completeness with which the report submitted by Conrad Douglas and Associates honoured the Terms of Reference that was agreed between the permitting agencies and the consultant.

The responses from Montague were tabled in the absence of Thwaites, and it is expected that when the House resumes on Tuesday the Opposition MP will ask any follow-up questions he thinks are necessary.


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