On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Transport and Mining, in association with the ACP Group of States; the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Development Minerals Programme at the Terra Nova All-Suites Hotel.

The Programme is a three year 13.1M Euros capacity building one that aims to build the profile and improve the management of Development Minerals (inclusive of industrial, construction, dimension stones and semi-precious stones).

Implemented at both the regional and country levels, the Programme seeks to conduct capacity building activities with participants from forty ACP countries through regional training workshops, field trips, the production of guidance products and knowledge exchange.

In delivering the keynote address on behalf of Minister Mike Henry, Permanent Secretary in the Mining Ministry, Dr. Alwin Hales said that Jamaica has a suite of commercially exploitable minerals, volcanic rocks, shale and semi-precious minerals that can form the basis of a profitable, efficient and sustainable minerals sector.

Continuing, he said, ‘this certainly will result in improved efforts to reduce poverty, facilitate rural development and generate wealth. Development minerals and materials such as sand and gravel along with limestone aggregate are the most mined materials. We mined large quantities of these each year and while the value may be low, the greater volumes result in greater revenues. These materials also contribute to employment, create opportunities for women in a male dominated industry. Its implications for sustainable development must not be overlooked.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner of the Mines and Geology Division, Mr. Clinton Thompson noted that though mining operations are located in different parts of the world, the challenges faced and the benefits to be gained are essentially the same. “The challenges associated with mining are no different – these include safety and health; environmental and community concerns; production/productivity and maximizing the benefits to be gained from our mineral resources ,” the Commissioner added.

For his part, Mr. Achim Schaffert, Head of Operations in the EU in Jamaica explained that the EU was happy to be an active stakeholder in the Programme as their aim was to assist in developing the mining sector especially as it pertained to some of the most vulnerable in the Jamaican population.

Also speaking at the Launch was Mr. Richard Kelly, Programme Specialist for the UNDP in Jamaica who said that among the goals of the UNDP with respect to the Programme was to develop the sector to the point where it is sustainable and the needs of future generations would be met.   

The Launch of the Mines and Geology Development Programme also featured an exhibition of mineral products and paraphernalia; those exhibiting included: the Mines and Geology Department, Mr. Egbert Hamilton (Stone Boss) and Delroy Lamont; Trench Town Ceramic and Art Centre, the Mining and Quarrying Association, Lydford Mining Company as well as the UNDP Jamaica.