We have to take stock of bauxite/alumina industry, says MP

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Member of Parliamentfor Manchester Southern Michael Stewart says Jamaicans should take stock of the costs and benefits of the bauxite/alumina industry, after more bitter complaints yesterday about its negative effects.

Residents of Rose Hill on the Manchester Plateau, at the heart of Stewart’s constituency, protested by blocking trucks carrying bauxite ore and appealing for help yesterday with dust pollution and noise nuisance triggered by bauxite mining close to their homes.

The residents say there was no consultation with them prior to the commencement of mining on Saturday, in the immediate vicinity of their homes.

“This has been happening for too long now; we have to wonder if the industry is worth all this trouble,” Stewart told the Jamaica Observer by telephone shortly after meeting with protesters at Rose Hill.

“As it is now, this area is a very, very windy place — which is why the Wigton Windfarm was established up here — and here we have bauxite mining taking place right beside where people live and no one even came to talk to the people about it.

“For decades bauxite mining has degraded the countryside — flora and fauna destroyed, farms damaged and destroyed, water quality eroded — and the people who live in the mining communities have nothing to show. If anything, it has left them poorer,” the Opposition People’s National Party MP said.

Stewart said that, as a result of the protest, a representative of bauxite/alumina company Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) Alpart met with residents and took a list of complaints and requests for compensation to his superiors at the plant’s headquarters in Nain, St Elizabeth.

The JISCO representative is to return to Rose Hill to report to residents later this week, Stewart said.

The Chinese-owned JISCO Alpart closed refining operations late last year to prepare for modernisation and expansion, but continued to mine and stockpile bauxite ore on the Manchester Plateau with the help of contractors.

The modernisation and expansion phase of the JISCO Alpart plant is yet to begin. Reports say the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major factor in the delay.

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