Jamaican Bauxite Mining Case Report -Palak The documentary video shows how bauxite mining affects environment in Jamaica. After the mining process takes place, the residual red mud is dumped into a lake in the highlands of Central Jamaica. However, these “red mud lakes” resulted in the percolation of caustic residues (sodium) into the underground aquifers in local areas. The sludge contains high levels of heavy metals and other pollutants. Thus, the soil remaining, cannot sustain life on it.
The environmental impact of Jamaica’s bauxite mining symbolizes the majority of mining or heavy industrial operations. Bauxite mining, which is considered as surface mining, is land extensive, noisy and dusty. Mining pits are often in between small rural communities, thereby requiring companies relocate the people and/or to monetarily compensate them. To facilitate this process, all the biodiversity has to be destroyed, thus affecting subsistence farmers the most, who are not even provided with any kind of compensation, as we see Mr.
Neville Palmer telling us, in the video. This loss of biodiversity is of great concern to all environmentalists. Mr. Dixon, an environmentalist tells us how the heavy metals present in the mud, is seeping into the ground water and that in turn is polluting rivers and streams. Thus, affecting not only the environment and surrounding ecosystem, but also the health of the local communities. The local people complain that the air is polluted by bauxite dust coming from the lake and a nearby processing plant.
However, one of the leading companies of bauxite mining in Jamaica, have stated that their bauxite residues facilities contain no toxic components and uses the latest technology for the red mud disposal. Reclamation and restoration of mined land is also done on a timely basis. The environmentalists don’t seem too satisfied with that, though. They say that the revenue generated by bauxite mining in Jamaica is far less than the harm caused to the environment by the land erosion n pollution.
Meanwhile, as the dispute continues, the mining companies continue to flourish. In the later years, the Jamaican Mining Act was introduced. The Jamaican Mining Act of 1947 requires mines to remove topsoil before mining, and restore it as part of the reclamation process. According to the Act, the companies holding the mining license, must, as soon as mining activities are over, restore every mined area of land to the level of productivity that existed prior to the mining.
This restoration must take place within six months after the activity has ended and failure to do so will result in a penalty of US$ 4,500 per acre. Since the average cost of restoration for mined-out bauxite lands in US$ 4000 per acre, the companies are encouraged to restore rather than pay the fine. Thus presently, the bauxite mining scenario in Jamaica is of high concern and environmentalists are doing as much as possible to curb the harmful effects. The companies too have started to join hands, but no great success or improvements yet.