Gov’t ‘relieved’ at Noranda decision
Bauxite company gets green light to continue mining operations
THE GOVERNMENT is reportedly “relieved” that bauxite company Noranda Jamaica Partners II has got the green light from the Court of Appeal to continue mining operations in sections of St Ann.
The Court of Appeal set aside the injunctions granted in the Supreme Court in January which had barred Noranda and its managing partner, New Day Aluminum (Jamaica) Limited, from conducting any mining activity under the 25-year Special Mining Lease 173 in parts of St Ann.
“It is a very important decision because the future was not going to be rosy if Noranda was not allowed to do some mining. There would be devastation for poor Jamaicans and the State would probably be sued for breach of contract,” said a government official, who was not authorised to speak on the matter.
The written judgment, which contains the reasons for the decision, was not available at press time, and some of the parties have declined to comment until they get the document.
The case was heard by Court of Appeal President, Justice Patrick Brooks, as well as justices Vivene Harris and Marcia Dunbar-Green.
Lawyers representing the companies had argued on appeal that Justice Anne-Marie Nembhard erred in granting the injunctions because the evidence did not establish that the residents would suffer irreparable harm as a result of the mining activities between now and when the claim would be determined in the Supreme Court.
The companies and the Government argued that the balance of convenience did not favour the grant of the injunction.
Noranda and New Day insisted that the block on mining would signal the “death knell” for them because mining was their sole business activity.
The companies also argued that the communities would be adversely affected because welfare-related activities would be halted. They said there would be a substantial loss of jobs and contracts to third parties, including residents.
One of the Government’s contention was that if the injunctions remained in force, it could potentially result in the imposition of $6 billion in taxes to fund welfare spending that came from the sector.
Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has argued that the bauxite-alumina industry “is of vital economic and developmental significance”.
The sector accounts for more than two per cent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product.
Nine residents from communities around the mining areas sought the injunction until the trial of a claim they have brought against SML 173. That matter is scheduled for November to December this year.
The residents are contending that the bauxite mining activities have breached or are likely to breach their fundamental right to life; right to enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage from environmental abuse.
The residents’ claim is separate from the lawsuit filed against SML 173 by the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency and Clifton Barrett, though both matters will be tried together.
The case for Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners II and Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners was argued by Ransford Braham, KC, Glenford Watson and Christina Thompson.
King’s Counsel Carlene Larmond and Giselle Campbell instructed by Patterson Mair Hamilton were the lawyers for New Day Aluminum (Jamaica) Limited.
The residents were represented by Michael Hylton, KC; Marlene Alleyne, Melissa McLeod and Daynia Allen, all instructed by Hylton Powell.
Lisa White, deputy solicitor general, and Taneisha Rowe-Coke led the Government’s case.
The Government of Jamaica has a 51 per cent stake in Noranda Jamaica Bauxite, which is a partnership with New Day, an American firm.
In 2021, Noranda Jamaica Bauxite was rebranded Discovery Bauxite.