JET responds to Noranda employees after demonstration

JET responds to Noranda employees after demonstration

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is holding its position that mining should not be allowed in the adjoining sections of the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA) following a demonstration by Noranda employees outside the environmental watchdog's office on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew yesterday morning.

JET Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Stanley questioned Noranda's decision to demonstrate instead of formally engaging the organisation.

“Why protest outside of JET? We have invited Noranda to stakeholder meetings regarding the Cockpit Country. We have been engaging Noranda for many years over bauxite mining issues. So I am a little confused as to why the first point of contact by Noranda is a protest. Why not ask for a meeting? Why not try to engage us and have some dialogue so that we can get a better understanding of each other's positions,” said Stanley in an interview with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“From an environmental perspective, bauxite mining is not sustainable. It is not good for the environment; that is our position. We are concerned about these areas that have been left out of the protected area and made that well known from when the prime minister made his announcement in November 2017. We have been advocating ever since for the protection of these other parts of the Cockpit Country that were left out of the protected area to be also protected from mining,” she continued.

A statement prepared by Noranda employees outlined a list of facts about the company's mining activities.

“There has been much confusion and hearsay around the topic of bauxite mining, Noranda, and the Cockpit Country… Employees are encouraged to read and make ourselves familiar with these facts as knowledge and accuracy are important in determining the way forward and the sustainability of our operations,” the statement read.

In its list of facts, Noranda reiterated that the company is not mining in the protected area and that special mining lease (SML 173) does not fall within this area. However, Stanley, in her response, pointed to key features of SML 173 that should also be protected from mining.

“JET has obviously voiced its concerns about SML 173 that has been granted to Noranda which would allow them to mine a part of the Cockpit Country that has been left out of the Cockpit Country Protected Area. These are parts of the Cockpit Country that are hydrologically sensitive. These are underground water resources that are very important. They are important to the lives of the people. There are also important historical sites, and of course, there are forest reserves within these areas as well, which are important for climate change.”

“We haven't gained any traction on that. Our calls for protection of the entire Cockpit Country from mining really have not got any meaningful response,” said Stanley.

As for the economic benefits of bauxite mining to Jamaica, Stanley said that more information is needed from the Government to ascertain those benefits, as weighed against the long-term cost to the environment.

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