Bauxite company breaches mining laws in St Annadmin
Commissioner of Mines, Clinton Thompson, has confirmed that the St. Ann Bauxite Company has failed to restore mined-out lands within the stipulated three years.
But Mr. Thompson says the Government is not considering applying the penalties that accompany such breaches.
“The aim of the Government is not to collect the penalty but to ensure that the backlog is addressed,” Mr. Thompson told The Gleaner/Power 106 News. “We are in an agreement for the company to start addressing the backlog along with their current liability. We have to give it a chance.”
Under the mining laws amended in 2004, bauxite companies in breach of land restoration regulation are liable to be fined US$25,000 dollars per acre of land not restored, plus a fee of US$2,500 dollars for each year of the breach.
Mr. Thompson was not immediately able to indicate the extent of the breach, but Member of Parliament (MP) for South West St. Ann, Ernest Smith, says about 70 per cent of mined-out lands in South West St. Ann have not been restored.
Speaking on Good Evening Jamaica on Power 106 FM on Friday, Roger Clarke, Minister of Land and Agriculture, said the Government would, however, consider imposing the penalties if St. Ann Bauxite Company fails to honour the new restoration schedule.
He also revealed that, so far, 6,780 hectares of land have been mined in Jamaica, with just over 4,000 hectares being certified as ‘restored.’ According to Mr. Clarke, the majority of parcels yet to be restored are located in south-west St. Ann.
Meanwhile, the South West St. Ann MP said from as far back as 45 years ago, Kaiser Bauxite Company (now St. Ann Bauxite) has failed to restore some lands.
Mr. Smith has warned that by October 15, he would be pursuing legal action in the Supreme Court to force the Mines Commissioner to impose penalties against St. Ann Bauxite Company.
He is also insisting that if the claim, which could run into billions of dollars is awarded, it would be used to fund infrastructure development in the affected communities of his constituency.
According to Mr. Smith, for several years, the Government has failed to invest the earnings from the bauxite levy in his constituency.
The Commissioner of Mines says he is unaware of Mr. Smith’s intention to take the matter to court.