JAMAICANS should soon find it easier to report instances of malpractice by mining companies.
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Floyd Green told a post-Cabinet media briefing on Wednesday that his ministry in now fine-tuning a mobile application which will provide people with the opportunity to report breaches by mining companies as they happen.
“We have had, over the years, tremendous challenges, issues, in fact conflict, in relation to the operation of mining in various communities, and a number of our citizens have said that it is much too difficult to raise issues, concerns when challenges with ongoing mining activities occur.
“We want to make that much easier and as such we have been working with our partners at the EU (European Union) and we are developing a mobile application on conflict management for our mining sectors,” said Green.
He told the media briefing that the mobile app will allow people to report grievances and issues from the adverse effects of mining and quarrying activities and to frame problems reported in a structured and systematic way.
According to Green, this is expected to enhance visibility while providing the opportunity for a comprehensive response.
“The application will give residents the opportunity to do real-time reporting and clearly give our agencies the opportunity to respond in real time,” added Green.
He said the app should be launched late this month or early December as it is already mainly done with just some fine tuning now taking place.
“It is really about listening to the concerns of our citizens and finding a more accountable and transparent way for them to raise issues that they are having and also being able to track resolution,” said Green.
Residents of several communities where bauxite and other minerals are mined have often complained about damage to the physical environment which they claim trigger disasters, such as fish kills, and provide a threat to human health and well-being from dust and chemical pollution.
Several Jamaicans, including some who benefit economically from mining and allied activities, have become increasingly impatient with the negative effects with a number of protests in recent years.
But despite the concerns Green told the post-Cabinet media briefing that the mining sector is doing very well with the two per cent economic growth reported for Jamaica in the last quarter was largely a result of a 164 per cent increase output by that sector.
“This is largely due to a higher output of aluminium from increased production at the Jamalco plant,” said Green, as he also pointed to a 100 per cent increase in export from the limestone sector.