Geophysx says Jamaica could earn billions of dollars from underground metalsTuesday, January 19, 2021
RECENT explorations for precious underground metals in sections of the island have indicated that Jamaica could earn billions of dollars in revenue while generating thousands of jobs if the sector is allowed to reach its full potential.
“There is GDP [gross domestic product] for the country, there is tax revenue for the Government, there is a lot of employment for the residents in the communities where it might happen and I think all around it will be a significant economic driver,” said Robert “Bobby” Stewart, head of Geophysx Jamaica, a privately held mineral exploration company.
“If done responsible, it will be a tremendous boon to the island and its people and does not have to represent an ecological negative. This is an industry that can create jobs and wealth for the entire economy,” Stewart told the Jamaica Observer in an update on the developments by his company which has already invested some $3 billion in its continued exploration for minerals across the island.
According to Stewart, apart from prospecting Geophysx has carried out a scientific campaign across the island and has tested almost 30,000 samples in labs in Canada in the last two-and-a-half years.
“This has given us a mineralogical map that shows us areas that it might be worth prospecting,” declared Stewart, whose company is looking for copper, zinc, gold and other minerals.
He noted that, in Jamaica, underground mining for metallic minerals, which is different from bauxite, actually died in the 1850s when gold was discovered in California, and everybody who was involved in mining in Jamaica jumped on a ship and went to the United States.
“So today everybody is accustomed only to bauxite. But bauxite is not inexhaustible, and there will come a time when other forms of mining will be important to the economy and to jobs and livelihood in Jamaica. We are preparing for that day, by working to identify these deposits now,” said Stewart.
He told the Observer that the possible mineral finds are smaller and more concentrated than some of the mining activities that Jamaica is accustomed to, so any impact on the environment will be negligible.
“The emphasis is on doing it responsibly and as such we have made sure that from the very start of our programme…we have done it in a very responsible manner and we have shown that we want to work with everybody locally and at the regulatory level, to demonstrate that we are operating at international standards.”
Stewart underscored that as a Jamaican company Geophysx is committed to the environment and works closely with the regulatory bodies to ensure that high standards are maintained in the way that mining is performed.
“Because these types of deposits are on a much smaller scale there is much less environmental or ecological impact is some of these underground mining operations,” said Stewart whose company has operated so far without drawing the ire of the environmentalists.
“We have demonstrated that we have standards and operational procedures that ensure that there is no negative impact on the environment. We have also reached out to some of the folks who deal with the protection of the environment to inform them of how we work and to ensure that they are aware of our goals,” added Stewart.
The Geophysx head said his company has already employed several people in the communities where it is conducting research and this is a feature which will continue when mining begins.
“We have hired hundreds of people in the communities throughout the island in this manner and in many cases the areas that we have stopped to work in, we have taken on people locally to help with the effort,” said Stewart.
He said his company has been reaching out to potential international investors, but it is looking for partners who share its objectives, including protecting the environment.
“At the same time, companies who want to come into Jamaica want to know that there is stable, objective administration of the laws and regulations and that the environment is not a risk to them. To date, Jamaica has demonstrated that it is a safe environment to work in and that the regulatory bodies are looking out to protect the investors and the environment,” said Stewart.
Geophysx Jamaica has applied for and received exclusive permits to explore areas in a number of parishes, including Clarendon, Portland, St Andrew, St Catherine, St Mary, and St Thomas.
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