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Negative Impact Of The Bauxite Mining Industry Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 3467 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This study is an investigation into the negative impact of the bauxite mining industry on the community of Myersville, St. Elizabeth. The research will entail:

What are the negative impacts that the mining industry has on the community of Myersville?

What are the effects of the negative impacts that the community is faced with?

How can the negative impacts be alleviated?


According to Effects of Pollution by Scott Foresman, ‘pollution is defined as the addition of any substance or form of energy to the environment at a rate faster than the environment can accommodate it by dispersion, decomposition, recycling, or storage in some harmless form’. The processing of alumina at ALPART generates dust thus emitting caustic soda and other waste products such as red mud trailing and gases.

Mr. Williams, personnel from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) office in St. Elizabeth explained that certain tests have been conducted on crops in which they have ruled out diseases and insects and have pointed to the dust emanating from the bauxite mining plant located in Nain, St. Elizabeth, as the main cause of the problems affecting residents’ crops.

Mc Farlene O.A (2000), a draft author on the internet, said ‘the major environment problem caused by the industry is the disposal of the tailing, which forms an alkaline mud. These “red mud lakes” resulted in the percololation of caustic residues (sodium) into the underground aquifers in local areas’. The environmental impact of Jamaica’s bauxite mining symbolizes the majority of mining or heavy industrial operation. Bauxite mining, which is considered as surface mining, is land extensive, noisy and dusty. Mining pits are often interspersed within small rural communities, therefore requiring companies to relocate the people and or to monetarily compensate them. An increasing concern is the loss of habitat for Jamaica’s unique plant and animal species; also bauxite mining severely affects the water retention capability of the soil. The Jamaica mining act of 1947 requires mines to remove top soil before mining, and restore it as part of the reclamation process. Two other environmental impacts of great concern is dust and caustic soda contamination. During a visit to ALPART port facility, economic officials observed a considerable amount of alumina spilled on the pier and a cloud of dust being carried downwind from loading equipment. It has been argued that the dust is chemically inert; however, it adversely affects the respiratory system, pollutes the residential cistern, and defaces property. The degradation of Jamaica’s delicate coral reefs along its south coast is as a result of alumina spilling during ship loading.

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An article titled Tailing wash-out result in death in Jamaica (2005, September 7) stated that a ” remediate” mine tailing area in Myersville, Jamaica became a water grave for five people on July 16,2005, when heavy rain from hurricane Emily washed their car off a road and over a precipice. According to Lance Neita, ALPART’s public relation manager, the bauxite mine which was dugged thirty years ago belongs to ALPART and had been “restored, rehabilitated and certified”. Jamaica National Work Agency (NWA) spokesman Stephen Shaw, said that erosion had taken place at the site and guard rails should have been installed. The author of the report concludes that the ALPART tradition has been to mute local protest rather than to eliminate the source of the environmental problem. There has been ongoing protest in Jamaica about the health and environment costs of the bauxite and alumina operation.

The writer Rampersad Ramsawak ( 2005) states that industries pollute water in a variety of ways and that in the first instance chemical plants such as oil refining, ammonia and urea plants release waste such as sulphur oxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere. When it rains, the water becomes polluted with these chemicals thus forming acid rain. Acid rain contributes to fishes being killed in rivers and lakes; also the soil becomes acid and this stultifies the growth of plants and accelerates the corrosion of metalwork on buildings.

Rampersad also said that noise pollution can be alleviated by the implementation of legislations which prohibits noise levels over 80 decibels in residential areas and also that persons should be educated on the effects of noise pollution.


Myersville is a developed community that has approximately two hundred (200) house holders. In order to collect accurate data for the survey, the researcher decided to use primary and secondary sources of data collection in the form of questionnaires, interviews, textbooks and newspaper articles.

The issuing of questionnaires was one of the most suitable form of data collection because they require little time to be completed; responses are gathered in a standardized way; information can be collected from a large portion of a group; also respondents feel confident in disseminating information because confidentiality is guaranteed and last but not least questionnaires can be completed at the convenience of the respondents in a relatively quick way.

In order to receive accurate information, it was calculated that approximately twenty (20) citizens’ inputs would be ideal. And these twenty (20) persons would account for 10% of the population of the two hundred (200) household members (10% of 200=20). These citizens were selected randomly by placing thirty (30) names in a box after which the box was energetically shaken and the twenty (20) names ascertained.

Twenty three (23) questionnaires were prepared and handed out to residents, with three (3) being additional in case all were not completed. Upon the distribution of the questionnaires, residents were given a time frame of one (1) week in which to complete the questionnaires. However, at the end of the time frame given to residents, the researcher only needed twenty (20) out of the twenty three (23) that were issued.

Alongside the questionnaires, interviews were conducted with some of the citizens who did not receive a questionnaire. The carrying out of interviews with the residents proved useful as the researcher was able to adapt the questions as necessary, clarify doubt, and ensure that the responses are properly understood by rephrasing and repeating the questions. The researcher could also pick up non verbal cues in detecting any form of discomfort, stress and problems that the respondent is experiencing.


Figure 1: Column Bar chart showing that seventy five percent (75%) of the respondents live within 1 – 5 miles from the mining industry, ten percent (10%) live within 6 – 10, five percent (5%) live within 11- 15 and five percent (5%) live within16 miles and over.


Type of pollution

Percentage of respondents

Air pollution


Water Pollution


Land Pollution


Total 100%

Noise Pollution


Table 1: Table showing that sixty percent (60%) of the respondents are affected by noise pollution, fifteen percent (15%) respectively is affected by air and water pollution and the remaining ten percent (10%) is affected by land pollution.

Figure 2: Pyramid showing that sixty percent (60%) of the respondents are affected by pollution everyday, thirty-five percent (35%) is affected periodically and five percent (5%) is not affected any at all.

Figure 3: The above pie chart depicts damages caused by pollution.

Thirty five (35%) said it causes poor crop yield and infertile soil, thirty (30%) respectively said the water gets contaminated and animals are affected and five percent (5%) said it causes acid rain.

Figure 4: Donut showing compensations received toward physical.

Thirty five percent (35%) of the respondents say that the company refills the tank with clean water, twenty five (25%) said that the company replaces their roofing material twenty percent (20%) said that the company leases lands for farming, fifteen (15%) said that there is payment for property damage and five percent (5%) that there is no compensation.

Table showing compensations received towards health


Percentage of respondents

Provide health cards


Ask citizens to bring medical bill to company


Relocate citizens


Deny responsibilities


Table 2 shows that the compensations received towards health are that the citizens are provided with health cards and a total of forty five percent (45%) said this, 30% said that the citizens are asked to bring the medical bill to the company; twenty five percent (25%) said that they relocate citizens and 0% said that they deny responsibilities.

Figure 5: Pie chart showing that 100% of the respondents said that an anti-pollution method has been implemented.


This survey is to find out what are the negative impacts that the mining industry(ALPART) has on the citizens of Myersville, the effects of these negative impacts and how these negative impacts can be alleviated.

Figure 1 illustrates that 15 out of 20 respondents live between 1 to 5 miles from the industry, two (2) live within 6-10 miles and 11 – 15 miles and one (1) live within 16 miles and over. Persons living within one to five (1 -5) miles may be as a result of the availability of resources such as fertile soil for farming. These persons who choose to live there because of the fertile soil for farming may be one that grows and sells food items for a living. Also, a person’s job may have caused them to live within such a close proximity to the industry as it is easier for them to get to work from there as it more economical for them. Those who live within six to ten (6 – 10) miles may be because of inheritance and often times when lands are inherited persons do not bother to relocate, instead they live there and try to make themselves and their family members happy. The person living within eleven to fifteen (11 – 15) miles and sixteen (16) miles and over may be because they had no choice; that person not having any choice could be because they were in search of a plot of land on which to settle and build their house and this plot of land that they came upon was of a reasonable price so the person just went ahead and bought it. Not having any choice could also be that that person was brought up in that community and when they came of age in which they could move out, they did not have the necessary resources such as money to move out and get on with their life.

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The types of pollution were depicted by figure 2. Noise pollution, having the most percentage, a total of sixty percent (60%) results from the heavy duty machines when they are extracting bauxite from the earth. Very loud noises accompany these machines when they are in use and noise can be very disturbing whether you are near or far away from it. Noise most times poses as a hindrance in one getting enough rest; hence, this results in frustration. Fifteen percent (15%) of the respondents are affected by air pollution, this may be so because of the dust that is uprooted during the processing of the bauxite; dust would be one of the main causes of air pollution. Water pollution is affected by fifteen percent (15%) of the respondents. This can be as a result of the chemical and dust that is in the air. In addition, it also results from oil spillage from ships that are docking in the harbor. Only ten percent (10%) stated that they are affected by land pollution. Land pollution is caused by debris that is washed on to the land and by negligent people who dispose of their garbage inappropriately. Also, in open cast mining, huge holes are dug in the ground and these form dangerously deep mining pools. A lot of mining waste is left behind and these waste often contain several poisonous substances that seep into underground water.

Sixty percent (60%) of the respondents said that they are affected every day. This is so because of the close proximity that they live to the mining industry. This would be within the distance range of one to five (1 – 5) miles. Thirty-five percent (35%) stated that they are affected periodically; this means that they are affected occasionally. In addition, these residents who are affected may be live within the range of six to fifteen (6- 15) miles. And this distance is much further away from the industry so the residents would not be affected as often as those who live at a closer proximity to the industry. Five (5%) percent is not affected any at all. These residents who are not affected would be those who are living sixteen (16) miles and over.

Thirty five percent (35%) from figure 4 suggested that poor crop yield was one of the major damages caused by pollution; this would be due to the fact that there is a removal of the topsoil during the extraction of bauxite. The topsoil contains all the essential nutrients needed for plant growth. Also, acid rain washes away nutrients from the topsoil, thus making it infertile. Residents say that animals are affected and there is a contamination of water. These responses account for thirty percent (30%) of the respondents respectively. Water becomes contaminated by the excessive dust and other impurities that are in the atmosphere and when consumed can cause great harm to the body. The contamination of water, removal of trees and pastures contributes to the loss of biodiversity. Acid rain being five percent (5%) affects residents’ infrastructure by corroding metals, burning up plants, affecting animals and contaminating drinking water.

There was some compensation that the Myersville community members receive towards physical damages. Among these compensations, the refilling of water tanks with clean water was the highest, having a total of thirty five percent (35%). This is so because the water is contaminated by acid rain and other impurities that are in the air and knowing that water is one of the basic necessities for survival, the industry therefore ensures that the residents have clean water for consumption. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the residents says that the industry replaces roofing materials. Here it can be seen that the industry takes responsibility for damages done to residents’ roofing materials. These damages done to roof is said to have been caused by acid rain. Another compensation that the industry offers is paying for property damage, as was said by fifteen (15%) of the respondents. Property damages could also have been caused by acid rain, as it causes the paint on buildings to strip. Five percent (5%) said that no compensation was given; this could be as a result of them not having any evidence to prove to the industry that the industry affects them in some way. These persons could also have been those who live at a far distance away from the industry.

Not only is compensation given towards physical damages but also it is given towards residents’ health. A number of health problems that residents face are asthma attacks, lung cancer, allergies, difficulty breathing. Furthermore, a resident that was interviewed gave the response that the administration of the industry causes sinus irritation and bronchitis. As a result of these ailments, forty five percent (45%) of the respondents said that they are given health cards as a means of reducing the cost of medications. Thirty percent (30%) of the respondents said that they are asked to bring their medical prescription to the company. This serves as a means of proving that the industry does have a negative impact on residents’ health. Another compensation offered towards residents’ health is that the company relocates them. This would be for residents’ who are vulnerable to the negative impacts that the administration of the industry poses on their health (mainly the elderly). Residents’ never gave a response to the industry denying their responsibilities. This goes to show that the company is aware of different health issues that persons experience overtime due to the production process that is undertaken by the industry.

One hundred percent (100%) of the respondents including those from the interview said that there has been an implementation of an anti-pollution method. One of the interviewee said that this may take the form of the industry reducing working hours, oiling and wetting the roads to reduce excess dust; also the company relocates residents’ that are at risk of being affected by the running of the company.


After receiving the responses from the questionnaire and interview, it can be seen that pollution is a major problem although the industry is trying to alleviate it.

Myersville is affected by pollution resulting from the Alpart mining industry.

The researcher found out that there are three (3) major types of pollution affecting the residents, namely: noise, air, and water with noise being the most unbearable one as stated by sixty percent (60%) of the residents in table 1.

It was also found out that residents that live relatively close to the industry are affected every day.

Discovery was made that damages caused by the pollution are as follows: infertile soil, contaminated water and animals are affected with infertile soil being the highest, a total of 35%. This is evident in figure 3.

Compensations are given towards physical damages in the form of replacing of roofing materials, refilling of water tanks with clean water, and leasing lands for farming. However, refilling tanks with clean water accounts for the highest percentage (35%) and this can be seen in figure 4.

Not only there are compensations given towards physical damages but also towards health. These compensations include provision of health cards and asking the residents to bring medical bills to the company. But out of the two, the provision of the health cards is the highest with a percentage of (45%) as can be seen in table 2.

Upon the completion of the project, the researcher found out that there has been an implementation of an anti-pollution method.

The smoke and dust that is emitted from the industry during the production process causing air and water pollution. The noise and the poor disposal of solid waste have also caused land and noise pollution, these pollution have caused infrastructural, agricultural, environmental and health problems to citizens on a regular basis.

Before the company takes responsibility for the effects that the company has on residents, they investigate to get proof that the damage was really caused by the industry.


During the investigation, the researcher found out that the industry is trying to alleviate the problem; however, the researcher would recommend the following measures;

Before the commencing of work on a daily basis the road should be wet or oiled so as to reduce excess dust; this should also be done on days when there is no work in progress.

The company should practice afforestation and reafforestation; this will help to reduce noise pollution and soil erosion.

The company could provide residents with reservoirs that is free from pollutants and is properly covered; the aim behind this is to ensure that resident always have a clean supply for consumption.

Residents could be provided with ear protectors and dust masks so as to dampen the level of noise and lessen the harmful effect it poses on one’s hearing ability and to lessen their intake of dust.

Also, the industry could contribute to the development of the community in education by establishing an early childhood institution and also community centers; also they can assist school children with financial assistance.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is responsible for the implementation of programmes to ensure that air pollution is controlled. Therefore, what they could do is to monitor Alpart’s operation in order to ensure that excess dust is not being emitted from the industry that poses as a threat to one’s health.


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