Mon | Oct 5, 2015

Not so fast

Published:Friday | January 18, 2013


What did Texas cowboys yell when trying to curtail the wild flailing of their horses? Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! My grandfather, on the other hand, would tell me, "Hold on to your brush!" whenever he wanted to borrow the ladder I was standing on while painting the ceiling.

I can't believe The Gleaner, in its editorial ('The potential of rare-earth metals', January 17, 2013), is already counting the dollars that this rare-earth metals project is expected to realise for Jamaica without doing the associated analysis pertaining to costs. And one of the costs is more environmental pollution than we already have from our four red mud lakes.

That aside, your quotation in the editorial, "Rare-earth metals are a series of elements that are particularly rare", is 1,000 per cent false.

Rare-earth metals exist in the earth's crust in every country on earth. It's their concentration versus other elements in the ore that gives such deposits significance.

There is another issue regarding another quotation in the editorial: "From Jamaica's point of view, this is potentially the most important economic development since commercial quantities of bauxite were discovered here more than 60 years ago and we began to mine the ore and refine it to alumina."

To that I say like the Texas cowboy, "Whooooaa, tek time, hold on pon yu brush!"

At least, wait until the Nippon Light Metal Company's pilot project bears fruit to see if the concentration of rare-earth metals really exist in commercially viable quantities, and if so at what cost? Economically, environmentally, and by no means least, socially?