Flagman Judah makes an impassioned appeal to Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness to stop mining for minerals as the devastating effects become evident, not only in the environment, but for the poor Jamaican farmers.
Many farmers have worked their lands for generations but now as miners, both legal and illegal, push forward the farmers’ livelihood is threatened. The Jamaican mining and minerals industry has the advantage of being one of the leading minerals based economies in the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and has an established history of mining and manufacturing. Jamaica has a more diverse range of minerals than many of the islands in the Caribbean. Limestone is Jamaica’s most abundant mineral; other minerals include alumina, bauxite, and mineral fuels, gypsum, marble, gold, clay, salt, sand and gravel, marl and silica sand.
The industry is however weakened by its heavy dependence on bauxite and alumina and an increase of illegal quarrying. Bauxite mining is considered to be one of the most significant reasons behind deforestation in Jamaica. During the last decades, large areas of forest have been cleared on the island due to open pit mining for bauxite.
Noranda Bauxite Company’s Public Relations officer Lance Neita tried to assure the citizenry that: “…landowners under the present system remain as owners of the land during mining, are compensated for disturbance of surface rights, crops, yield, livestock, trees and buildings, and have their lands returned to them as rehabilitated and renewed for farming or occupational use.”
But compensation packages aside, the farmers insisted that mining will irreversibly damage the fertile lands.