Minister of National Security Robert Montague. (JIS)
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KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government says it is has granted nearly 90 exploratory licences for semi-precious minerals such as cobalt, copper, gold, silver and zinc, since March last year.
“Right now, almost every square inch of Jamaica is under a prospecting licence for some kind of mineral. The beauty of it, is that most of the companies that are prospecting… are Jamaican-owned. So if [for example] gold is found… in commercial quantities, the profits will stay here,” said Transport and Mining Minister, Robert Montague.
He assured, however, that the government is encouraging and facilitating the exploitation of minerals “in a very sustainable and structured way” and that in a bid to encourage the mining of semiprecious minerals, the Ministry’s Mines and Geology Division hosted a series of workshops and training seminars for industry stakeholders.
He told a Corporate Governance Seminar that these formed part of the three-year Euro 13.1-million African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) Development Minerals Programme.
This capacity-building initiative, conceptualised by the ACP Group of States, aims to enhance the profile and improve the management of development minerals. These include industrial minerals, construction materials, and dimension and semiprecious stones.
The engagement is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which jointly finances it with the EU.
According to a UNDP publication, development minerals provide crucial inputs for domestic economic development, such as infrastructure, manufacturing, construction and agriculture. Additionally, they have the potential to be high value, in terms of national development.
Montague noted that the programme has benefited local jewellery makers who are now utilising semiprecious stones, “which is a huge market”. (CMC)