For the past few months. mining in the Cockpit Country has been on the lips of Trelawny’s residents, especially those living in the southern end of the parish.
The following excerpt is from an article first appearing in the Jamaica Observer. It echoes the concern of the farmers in the area, which is best known for its yam production. The farmers are worried about the impact any mining in the area would have on their livelihood.
Mining on the border of the Cockpit Country remains a worrying prospect for residents of Albert Town, Ulster Spring, Alps, Linton Park, Soyers, and Freeman’s Hall in Trelawny, where sections of their communities, which fall under special mining lease (SML) area 173, are now facing the imminent threat of bauxite mining.
Farmers in the area, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer during a visit last Thursday, shared that farming was the only livelihood they had, passed down for generations.
But with miners now pushing west from St Ann in communities like Madras and Gibraltar, they, just two miles away, are concerned that mining will pose an existential threat to that legacy.
To quell such concerns, Noranda’s Public Relations officer Lance Neita, in an article published in the Observer on Monday, September 11, assured the citizenry that: “…landowners under the present system remain as owners of the land during mining, are compensated for disturbance of surface rights, crops, yield, livestock, trees and buildings, and have their lands returned to them as rehabilitated and renewed for farming or occupational use.”
But compensation packages aside, the farmers insisted that mining will irreversibly damage the fertile lands on which they are currently producing the best yams in Jamaica, and arguably, the world.
“Wi plant the best yam right here inna the Cockpit. Wi get water and everything else that wi need right here. When them come and mine out the land, wi nah guh can plant this kind a quality yam again,” said Maxwell Smith, a yam farmer from Alps.
“Wi don’t want them money. Wi satisfied if everyday wi can sell at least a pound a yam. Wi satisfied wid that,” added Smith. His compatriots chimed in: “Wi nuh want no mining here. No mining in the Cockpit.”
“Right now mi nuh have no other source. Mi nuh have nowhere else fi guh. Farming in here so is the key fi wi and if them relocate wi to a town area, wi nah guh have no weh fi raise wi animal and wi nuh want no other work,” said the father of three children, hurrying to offload the yams as rain clouds formed over that section of the Cockpit Country.
thumbnail courtesy of jamaicaobserver.com