No mining will be permitted in the Cockpit Country Protected Area.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday, weeks after the deadline for the Government to respond to the successful Save the Cockpit Country petition against mining in the area.
In making the declaration, Holness said his administration is of the view that the area was too valuable “in terms of its ecological and hydrological importance and uniqueness” to allow mining which can cause “permanent and irreversible harm and deprive future generations of the benefit of this national asset.
“While we will forgo the exploitation of millions of tonnes of high grade bauxite and limestone with potential earnings of billions of United States dollars,” Holness said, “we cannot put a price tag on the loss to our water resources and biodiversity.”
Holness said a detailed description of the Cockpit Country and the Cockpit Country Protected Area will be provided by the Forestry department after consultation with the necessary departments, and noted that the Mining Act and any existing mining licences will be amended to close these areas to mining.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that there are substantial mineral deposits located outside the declared boundary of the Cockpit Country which are exploitable. But he said any major development activity would “be subject to a rigorous process of decision-making including approval by Cabinet”.