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Bauxite mining in Cockpit Country, Jamaica


Bauxite is the source mineral of aluminium. In Jamaica, ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America), the largest producer of aluminum in the world, has been mining bauxite since 1963, converting Jamaica in the sixth largest bauxite producer in the world, right after Australia, Guinea, Brazil, China and India.

Since 2004, ALCOA has been prospecting for bauxite in Cockpit Country, a Maroon territory located in Trelawny in the northwest of Jamaica. The company's exploration license expired in May 2006 and it was expected to be renewed. Around this time, however, tribal communities of Cockpit Country, together with local and national NGOs and other stakeholders, claimed that there had been no formal consultations and that a mine would cause irreversible environmental impacts. These different groups decided to join forces and formed a united group called the Cockpit Country Stakeholders' Group (CCSG).

Due to political lobbying by CCSG and different types of actions, such as street protests, judicial activism, as well as complaint letters and petitions, Jamaica's government in 2007 withdrew the license for Alcoa Inc. and the state-owned Clarendon Alumina Production Ltd.'s exploration.

The leader of the maroon group, Sydney Peddie, commented on this matter: “We will be joining forces with all the influential people to thwart this issue. It will not happen or else there will be war”

Cockpit Country is an important water reserve in Jamaica; forty percent of it’s fresh water comes from this area. It is also home to many Maroons, as well as a habitat for endemic and rare Jamaican animals – including 95 per cent of the wild population of Jamaican Black-Billed Parrots (a species that appears on the red list of the IUCN). In 1979, threats such as bauxite mining, agriculture and logging led to a proposal to declare it a National Park, followed in 1994 by another proposal to declare it a World Heritage Site. However, none of these met with success. In 2006, a petition was submitted to the Prime Minister asking him to take a stance against all mining activity in the area, and to ensure its protection. In 2013, the Cockpit Country Stakeholders' Group developed a proposal, which was supported by the University of the West Indies, and which asks for the definition of the total territory of Cockpit Country that belongs to the maroons and a boundary set with mining a no-go within the area. The current status of this proposal is unknown.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Bauxite mining in Cockpit Country, Jamaica
State or province:Cockpit Country
Location of conflict:Trelawny Parish
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Other industries
Metal refineries
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Aluminum/Bauxite
silica and limestone

Project Details and Actors

Project details

A licence granted to Alcoa Minerals of Jamaica to prospect bauxite in the parished of Trelawny and St. Ann ( about 51 000 ha).

Jamaica's alumina capacity is approximately three million tons per year.

Project area:51000
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:75 000
Start of the conflict:04/08/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Alcoa from United States of America
Alcoa Minerals of Jamaica from United States of America - concessionaire
Clarendon Alumina Production from Jamaica
Relevant government actors:Jamaica Bauxite Institute, Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Government of Jamaica.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Cockpit Country Stakeholders' Group (CCSG), Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA), Windsor Research Centre (WRC), University of the West Indies (UWI), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Jamaica Environmental Advocacy Network (JEAN).

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Maroon community
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Refusal of compensation


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Soil erosion, Mine tailing spills
Other Environmental impactsLoss of endemic species
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Increase in violence and crime


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:Sustainable and long-term economic projects such as butterfly ranch and zoo, organic agriculture, hemp product development, water production, essential oils and neutraceuticals, bamboo for housing, planting yam and other crops, ecological and cultural tourism.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The Jamaica government backed away from offering licenses for bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country region after protests from environmentalists and maroons.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Prospecting Licence #SEPL 535 granted to ALCOA Minerals of Jamaica in 2004

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Defining the Boundaries of The Cockpit Country. Final Report 9 th October 2008. University Of West Indies

Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency, Cockpit Country vs. Bauxite. From the Editor

The Gleaner (2013). Inside The Cockpit Country - Maroons, Conservationists Say No To Bauxite, Limestone Mining

Environment News Service (2006) Bauxite Mine Fight Looms in Jamaica's Cockpit Country

Bauxite Mine Fight Looms in Jamaica's Cockpit Country (2006)

Lodos rojos de minería de bauxita, deforestación y tragedias socioambientales (2010)

Ambiente-Jamaica. Interpress Services

BBC Caribean (2007) Maroons vow to protect lands

The Cockpit Country of Jamaica and the Threats Posed by Bauxite Mining (2013)

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Save Cockpit Country public campaign

Cockpit Country - Voices from Jamaica's Heart

Meta information

Contributor:Grettel Navas, Fundación Neotrópica
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1525



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