JAMAICA LAUNCHES MINING CADASTRE TO IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY

In early March, with funds provided by the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme, Jamaica’s mining industry took another step toward offering owners and employees better transparency. With the launch of the Jamaican Mining Cadastre (JAMinCAD), a public software tool that records mining titles throughout the country, investors will know who owns mining leases, licences, permits and environmental boundaries properties, and where.

“The Mining Cadastre provides a client-focused, user-friendly interface to investors and other end users of the system,” said Audley Shaw, Jamaica’s Minister of Transport and Mining at the launch in March this year.

Until recently the country did not have a computerized database for mining initiatives. Licensing processes were relegated to paper-based systems and a few digitized maps, (stuck in another century) with transactions mostly recorded on paper ledgers or through off-the-shelf ArcGIS software. Annual licensing costs for that software were costly for the government and the processes of issuing and tracking mining licenses {and tracking them} were time-consuming.

The mining cadastre now allows the government to manage its mineral resources efficiently, effectively and transparently. It enables the government and industry to know the types, location, and quantity of mineral resources in the country. The cadastre is also a key tool for regulating the operations of mining operators and artisanal enterprises through the management of mineral licenses and related documentation.

Reclaiming mined lands to create sustainable incomes in Uganda

The Bushenyi District of southwestern Uganda is home to numerous artisanal mining operations.  For years, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has become an important source of income for thousands of residents of Uganda. The average monthly income for small-scale miners is 630,000 Uganda Shillings (about USD 170) per miner. The national monthly minimum wage is 6,000 Ugandan Shillings. Like in other countries in Africa, the past decade has seen increasing numbers of individuals and households turn to ASM. In the face of high mineral prices, population growth, poverty and climate change, this trend is likely to continue. Because ASM activities contribute to poverty reduction in remote rural areas, efforts to end the activity tend to fail.

But mining has also scarred these lands. There were many abandoned pits which have become death traps for both animals and humans. ASM has also destroyed and degraded forest ecosystems (through habitat destruction, the use of toxic chemicals, pollution of waterways, etc) and threatened the practices on which mining populations depended (for example, gathering firewood, bushmeat hunting, timbering for construction, etc).

The ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme has equipped the Bushenyi District Natural Resource Officer, Mr Cyril Mugyenyi, with knowledge and skills to support artisanal and small-scale miners to restore mined lands to their original states. This support has started to yield results. So far about 25 hectares of land have been restored since 2018. Members of the Buramba Stone Quarry Association who are being supported by Mr Cyril Mugyenyi have reclaimed 15 hectares of the 30 hectares they are mining. Under the direction of Mugyenyi, abandoned pits are filled with a mix of poor soils from the mine, aggregates, and other materials. Next crops which usually survive in poor soils like eucalyptus are planted.

Cyril Mugyenyi points to the places which were restored after miners exhausted the rock at the Buramba Stone quarry in Bushenyi district. UNDP enabled training of the miners in land restoration.