The Government, through the new National Minerals Policy (NMP) is positioning the country to tap into potential opportunities from the billion-dollar global minerals industry.
“The sector has a current value of just over US$1 billion, and under the new Minerals Policy every effort will be made to integrate it into the wider society, so that the ripple effect will trickle down to the community level,” said Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Michael Henry.
He was speaking at the National Minerals Week Investment Forum at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew on November 21.
Minister Henry said Cabinet is to receive a submission shortly on the first draft of the NMP, which provides for the management and development of Jamaica’s mineral resources.
It places emphasis on partnership between the public and the private sectors and outlines the possible benefits of the structured development of the minerals sector to the Jamaican people, as well as the mix of policy measures, objectives and strategies to be pursued in order to realise the sector’s continued transformation and optimal development.
Minister Henry said the time has come for players in the sector to organise their operations to maximise returns and go for the growth that beckons.
He argued that there is no way “we can improve this sector without taking steps to diversify it and take advantage of the value-added components that have seemingly eluded us over the years”.
Meanwhile, he said efforts will be redoubled to ensure the sustainability of the sector, adding that more emphasis will be placed on the environment and the people.
As such, he said, operations will be more stringently policed and operators will have to adhere to the regulations that govern the sector.
Minister Henry also mentioned plans for the establishment of a National Minerals Institute for the training and development of human resources for the sector.
“I am aiming to see the development of a training programme for young people in the industry,” he said, noting that the minerals school will provide an opportunity to “hone new skills and improve on what we have”.
“As we move forward, I have given instructions for this to be fast-tracked,” he said.
Minister Henry said the National Minerals Institute will have support from the Minerals Development Council and the National Mineral-Bearing Lands Management Committee.
“I want to see a modernisation of the framework for sustainable mineral use. I want to see improved competitiveness, improved efficiency of operations, and, most importantly, improved occupational health among the workforce as we expose them to developing and new technologies,” he pointed out.
The forum sought to promote interest and attract investment in the minerals sector. It was organised by the Ministry of Transport and Mining in association with the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).