Dr. Anthony Greenway
One of the researchers on a new study on the effects of bauxite mining in Jamaica says there is no need to halt extraction of the mineral despite estimates the cost of the health impacts might be higher than the industry's earnings.
A multi-disciplinary review of the sector titled "Red Dirt", which was released Thursday, estimated that the effects from the bauxite industry could be costing Jamaica as high as US$18 billion per year.
However, laboratory management and data interpretation consultant, Dr. Anthony Greenway, says mining remains a viable industry.
He argues that what is needed is greater adherence to the existing rules and oversight by regulators.
"Jamaica has about seven per cent of the reserves of bauxite, a rather big player in the industry, but 5th largest nation in terms of production of bauxite. And the predictions are from the development of the National Minerals Policy which is in draft form at the moment - it is predicting that we have about, at present rates of production, about 50 to 100 years more worth or amounts of bauxite and that's a major resource.... But from a pollution point of view, which is really, my expertise, I think the issues are controllable if they are controlled properly," he asserted.
Dr. Greenaway argued that part of the problem is that regulators have been doing a poor job of monitoring the effects of the industry on people and the economy.
"Why after 70 years have we not done a decent study of the effect of mining on water resources?" he questioned, adding that the same concern exists with respect to atmospheric pollution.
"I think if we manage the process properly, if we fight to make sure that all the information is available, that the Jamaica Bauxite Institute and hopefully the new minerals institute will start doing proper research into the impacts that these activities have on our system, then I think we have a viable industry," he said.