Gov’t reinvesting bauxite earnings into mining communities – JBI Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Government of Jamaica has continued to reinvest earnings from the bauxite industry into communities that are impacted by mining, according to Director of Bauxite Lands at Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), Kemoy Lindsay. 

Through the Bauxite Community Development Programme (BCDP) that was established in 1996, funding and technical support are being provided for sustainable initiatives in mining areas, Lindsay said.

“Infrastructure, healthcare, road repairs, skills training, and all facets of social development are taken care of,” he disclosed in his address at National Minerals Week Mining/Minerals Sector Conference at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville, Manchester last week.

Lindsay said since 1996 the JBI, through the BCDP, has implemented over 350 projects totalling close to $1 billion, representing “bauxite money being directly rechannelled into the communities”. 

He added that, “Over the 28 years, we have impacted more than half a million residents in bauxite communities.”

Agriculture, which is the mainstay in most of the communities, has received the largest share of the support.

Since the BCDP’s inception, the funding injected into farming has increased by seven to 10 per cent.

In Manchester, the projects undertaken include the construction of two classrooms at Kendal All-Age; expansion of the New Green Basic School; building of a computer lab and art block at Winston Jones High School; electricity expansion in 10 communities; while 1,500 poultry farmers and 5,000 small farmers have received assistance.

“We funded the renovation and reopening of the Broadleaf Health Centre; construction of 60 greenhouses, and in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the JBI will be one of the largest facilitators of greenhouse technology not just in Jamaica, but in the English-speaking Caribbean,” Lindsay further stated. 

He further cited support for skills training programmes, construction of post offices at Kendal and Harmons, as well as the provision of millions of dollars in scholarships for students.

Lindsay pointed to what he said is close collaboration with residents to ensure that projects being undertaken will provide them with tangible long-term social and economic benefits.

He said there is also direct and constant trilateral dialogue involving the mining companies, the communities and the relevant Government agencies.

“Gone are the days when… community members felt that their concerns were not being heard. We have successfully created bauxite community councils to bridge that gap and provide a forum for the dissemination and discussion of issues,” he said.

“This ensures that business continues in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the community,” he added.

According to Lindsay, there are 14 active councils across the five bauxite mining parishes of Manchester, Clarendon, St Elizabeth, St Ann, and St Catherine.

He said the aim is to ensure that every community impacted by bauxite mining has a forum to have the relevant concerns heard and the needs discussed in a structured way.