Urgent statement re: mining-related activities in SML173 – Cockpit Country, Jamaica

The lobby group Freedom Imaginaries is raising the alarm. Please read their statement below carefully.

This morning I attended a conference which provided valuable updates on the Kingston Harbour Ecosystem Adaptation Measures Project (KHEAM). This impressive project, spearheaded by the GraceKennedy Foundation, embraces several partners and is ensuring full community involvement and buy-in. I met Dwight Singh, a young man from one of the downtown communities close to Barnes Gully, which flows into the Harbour. He has been trained as a Mangrove Warden. I will write more about this later.

The keynote speaker at the KHEAM conference was Minister of Information Robert Morgan. The Minister began by talking about the harbour project, and then moved on to the topic which, he emphasised, he was really interested in discussing: the Cockpit Country Protected Area. He spoke for about half an hour on the topic, bringing maps of the different boundaries with him and displaying them on easels. The audience included a number of environmentalists, non-governmental organisations, scientists and academics, who were there, of course, to learn more about the KHEAM project.

Now, this evening I received the following statement from Freedom Imaginaries. I am sharing it below in its entirety. Please contact Micha Alleyne at info@freedomimaginaries.org for information or visit their website at www.freedomimaginaries.org

FREEDOM IMAGINARIES EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER MINING-RELATED ACTIVITIES IN SPECIAL MINING LEASE 173 

On November 16, 2022, Freedom Imaginaries observed a notice erected on land in Industry, St. Ann, stating “Vegetation Clearance [is] in Progress” in part of Special Mining Lease (SML) 173, operated by Discovery Bauxite Partners (formerly Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners II). The area surrounding the notice is covered by crops such as corn, sweet yam, sweet potato, and other ground provisions, as well as medicinal plants that farmers rely on for their subsistence and livelihood

The notice was erected while an application for an interim injunction restraining Noranda from starting or continuing any mining or other activity pursuant to SML 173—or continuing any mining or other activity pursuant to SMLs 165 and 172—is still pending before the court. The injunction application, filed on July 29, will be heard on December 2, 2022. 

We would have expected that the entities involved would have had due regard to the injunction application being resolved by the court before advancing with preliminary mining-related activities in the SML 173 area. 

In this context, Freedom Imaginaries calls on Discovery Bauxite Partners, Discovery Bauxite Operations Limited, the Government of Jamaica, the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, the National Resources Conservation Authority, and the National Environment and Planning Agency to urgently:

  1. Advise whether “Vegetation Clearance,” or any other mining-related activity, is in fact taking place or scheduled to take place pursuant to SML 173 while the interim injunction application is pending. If so, inform affected communities and the public about the location, schedule and nature of any such activity scheduled to take place over the course of the next six months;
  • Indicate whether “Vegetation Clearance” will involve the destruction of the crops that currently cover the notice area and, if so, how many farmers will likely be affected and/or displaced.
  • Inform whether the farmers who are currently growing crops on land in Industry, St. Ann, will be compensated for any loss of or damage to their crops on account of mining or mining-related activities in the SML 173 area, and if not, provide reasons.

Freedom Imaginaries requests that this information be provided in a proactive, timely and accessible manner in accordance with human rights principles of environmental democracy as reflected in the recently concluded Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement), signed by Jamaica. 

Contact: info@freedomimaginaries.org

This is Cockpit Country. (Photo: Wendy Lee)

4 thoughts on “Urgent statement re: mining-related activities in SML173 – Cockpit Country, Jamaica

  1. i find it distasteful that the Minister Robert Morgan is invited to talk on one issue namely on Kingston Harbour then branches off to fulfil his own agenda as he said to talk about his real interest the Cockpit country. what an affrontary and a dili erate misuse of his position.i would suggest that he provide a brief before being invited to speak in ifuture and also avail himself of the current situation

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    1. Yes, I found it rather disrespectful and felt a little sorry for GK and the conference organisers. He grabbed the opportunity for his own agenda. He actually said he would talk about Kingston Harbour (a big project which they are justifiably proud of) with a few slides and then said the “second part” of his speech which was what he really wanted to talk about… and out came the Cockpit Country maps!

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  2. This is interesting but unfortunately not surprising. Most western based companies have stringent regulations mandating pre-entry requirements to areas planned inside or adjoining particular communities or various types of reserved and protected lands. Yet even in their home countries, some companies try to circumvent regulations. I hope locals persist in their efforts to permit such companies to their lands only after mutually acceptable discussion and agreement.
    One other aspect found in some mines around the world is that there are probably community members (often silent) supporting the mine in the hopes of obtaining employment.

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