For the past months bauxite mining in the cockpit country has been at the top of debate lists. While some people are concerned about the environmental issues mining on the land might cause, others are considering the monetary benefits Jamaicans might get from mining in the country.
Those against mining in the country are community members and environmentalists. One such environmentalist is Esther Figueroa.
“Digging up for bauxite is insane and suicidal. Mr Prime Minister, are you going to bring out the police and soldiers to kill your people when we stand against mining? Withdraw the Mining Lease 173 immediately”, said Figueroa.
Persons have also highlighted the lack of resources in other areas that can be found in the cockpit country. Such resources include water, animals, herbal plants and trees that provide food to members of the community and the country on a whole.
According to Dr David Smith, Coordinator, Sustainable Development Unit – University of the West Indies, Mona water is now one of the main resources that the government has been having problems providing and bauxite mining in the cockpit country might worsen this situation.
“There are two places in Jamaica with resources found nowhere else in the world. I speak of the Blue Mountains and the Cockpit Country. A key resource is water. Scientists have not been able to find a substitute for water. Every hotel in western Jamaica use water which originates in the Cockpit Country. The electricity from the Rio Bueno Jamaica Public Service Plant depends on water generated from the Cockpit Country. Bauxite is a finite ore when that is over, what is next? There is a Mining Act of 1947 which is in desperate need of being brought into the 21st Century,” said Smith.
While mining in the cockpit country could contribute immensely to Jamaica’s revenue, it is extremely important for the government who has 51% of the majority shares in the Noranda Bauxite Company while the remaining 49% are private of shares to think long term as it relates to how Jamaica will benefit. Climate Change has been a huge issue which many countries have been fighting to deal with and mining in the cockpit country would only add to the already existing environmental issues. The land, forests, plants and animals in the country provides people with clean air, cool temperatures, fresh water, pollination and pest control for agriculture, medicinal plants and many fertile soils. These all contribute to troubleshooting climate change.