Residents and other stakeholders who’re still concerned about mining around the protected areas of the Cockpit Country are calling for a buffer zone.
In a statement to the media, the Jamaica Environment Trust, JET, says the community members voiced their concerns at a meeting on October 25 with stakeholders in Kingston.
Among the concerns is the impact mining could have on the water resources in and around the Cockpit Country.
JET says a new Special Mining Lease issued to New Day Aluminium in August covers an area adjacent to the north-eastern border of the designated Cockpit Country Protected Areas.
This was received by JET through an Access to Information request to the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Transport and Mining.
Chief Executive Officer at JET, Suzanne Stanley, says mining outside of the protected areas is not enough to ensure important groundwater reserves in and around the Cockpit Country remain intact.
JET says the Cockpit Country accounts for 40-percent of Western Jamaica’s water resources.
Meanwhile, Director of Research at the Windsor Research Centre in Trelawny, Dr. Susan Koenig, who was also present at the meeting says the government should not be allowing any activity in the area. She says it will affect the quality and quantity of water stored in the Cockpit Country aquifer.
Dr. Koenig says it becomes increasingly important as changes in rainfall patterns associated with climate change is observed.Ms. Stanley says residents have also said they’re worried about open bauxite pits.
JET says these open pits are measuring 100 feet deep in St. Ann.
Other residents are raising concerns about the impacts on agriculture.
Ms. Stanley says a buffer zone would prevent activities from happening in the areas closest to the protected regions.