ELAW partners in Jamaica are celebrating a January 20 Supreme Court order halting bauxite mining next to communities in St. Ann until a claim brought by nine residents is heard later this year. The claimants live within three different mining leases which overlap with a contested area, omitted from the Cockpit Country Protected Area, declared in 2022.
We congratulate Malene Alleyne, Jamaican international human rights lawyer and founder of Freedom Imaginaries, for this victory. “This is an important milestone for the claimants whose bravery and vision have brought us to a landmark moment in Jamaica’s justice system,” says Malene, who is on the team of lawyers representing the residents.
“This case is about whether bauxite mining can be carried out in proximity to human settlements, including homes, schools, churches, and farms, without breaching the constitutional rights of those who live there,” writes Diana McCaulay, founder of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET). "The decision, when it is handed down, will set precedent for all mining and quarrying in Jamaica.”
According to The Jamaica Observer, claimants allege “bauxite mining activities have breached, or are likely to breach, their fundamental right to life” and that “despite numerous complaints in relation to the health impact of bauxite dust pollution, the defendants… have failed to take even basic measures to safeguard the life and health of the citizenry before granting special mining leases 165, 172 and 173.”
ELAW has worked with JET and colleagues for years to protect communities in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country and other areas from polluting and environmentally destructive bauxite mining operations.
Last year, we collaborated on JET’s publication: Red Dirt: A Multidisciplinary Review of the Bauxite-Alumina Industry in Jamaica. “Over the 70-odd years of the bauxite industry in Jamaica, there had been no serious evaluation of its costs or environmental impacts,” says Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, JET Chief Executive Officer. “We truly appreciate ELAW’s collaboration on Red Dirt, including contributions supporting the scientific and economic elements of the publication.”
We will keep you informed as work to protect communities from short-sighted bauxite mining advances.
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Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide