The Bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country is anticipated to render a game-changing boost to the economy of Jamaica, despite potential long-term deforestation, at least in the short term, if the Government allows Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners II (NJBP II) to mine 8,335 hectares of land, as reported by an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Noranda’s plan to mine an area identified as Special Mining Lease (SML) 173 has been dogged by controversy, with environmentalists and farmers wary of potential devastation to the ecologically sensitive area.
The EIA, prepared by Conrad Douglas & Associates, reads: “This is a major contribution to maintaining NJBP II’s operations and a critically important contribution to Jamaica’s economy overall, and more specifically, foreign exchange earnings, GDP growth, and employment.”
The review recognized that the Jamaican economy was at a very sensitive stage and could be subject to exogenous and endogenous shocks.
The volume of bauxite exports from the initiative is expected to collect more than US$150 million (J$20.25 billion) per year in profit, the assessors said of the undertaking by Noranda, of which the Government of Jamaica has a 51% stake and New Day Aluminum (Jamaica) Limited has the minority 49% interest.
In contrary, the environmental stakeholders are likely to insist that: “EIA’s acknowledgement of dislocation of some households, disturbance of archaeological heritage sites, and deforestation as sufficient reasons why mining should not proceed in SML 173.”
“Bauxite mining is also likely to increase the water run-off rate, erosion, and sedimentation of the natural drainage system and the potential of flooding. There may also be damage to sinkholes and caves and a reduction of water quality linked to dust generated during the trucking of the ore.”
“Noise pollution, wildlife migration, and potential loss of biodiversity in the immediate area and disruption of established ecosystems were also cited as mitigating factors.”
The EIA highlighted the fact that: “Mining would not take place within the boundaries of the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA), noting that the Government had given up valuable bauxite resources located within the proposed CCPA to protect prized renewable resources.”
“The value of the bauxite that has been given up (sequestered) by the GOJ has been estimated to range from approximately US$1.44 billion to US$1.85 billion,” was how Conrad Douglas & Associates justified the granting of a permit.
“Jamaica’s immediate to medium-term social, economic, and sustainable development future is highly dependent on providing NJBP II with the permits to mine these bauxite resources”, the EIA concluded.The report also added: “There are no other feasible immediate or short-term economic alternatives that have been identified that can be considered as a substitute to bring equal or greater macro-and microeconomic benefits to Jamaica at this time.”