Jamaica Hires Consultant to Determine Borders of Area Home to Maroons So Mining Can Go Forwardadmin
The Jamaican government has hired a consultant to determine the boundaries of a jungle territory home to descendants of freed African slaves who are fighting plans for bauxite mining in the area, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.
Ministry spokesman Rohan Richards said the consultant would determine the borders of Cockpit Country, spanning four parishes in northwest Jamaica. He refused to elaborate.
The government could use the consultant’s information to decide what land does not belong to the Accompong Maroons — descendants of slaves freed by the Spanish in the 17th century to repel invading British forces — and can therefore be mined.
Last month, Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke said he withdrew a license for U.S.-based aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. and state-owned Clarendon Alumina Production Ltd. to begin bauxite mining in the area after the Maroons said they would not allow it and environmental activists threatened protests.
Sydney Peddie, the Maroons’ leader, has said opening up the area to mining would breach a 1739 treaty signed with the British that gave them some 24,700 acres (9,995 hectares) in the inhospitable terrain of rocky cliffs and limestone towers.
Environmentalists say mining will destroy the mostly uninhabited area which is home to about 80 bird species and serves as an aquifer to five of the island’s largest rivers, according to the Jamaica Environmental Trust.
The government will decide this month whether to grant a mining license, Clarke says. Several messages left for Clark on Wednesday were not returned.
Jamaica is the world’s fifth-largest producer of bauxite, the raw material for aluminum.
Source: AP via yahoo news