Clarendon community still hoping for its own gold boom
The discovery of what residents believe to be gold in Chester Castle, Hanover, has reignited feelings of hurt among residents in Pennants, Clarendon, where Jamaica's first known gold mine was discovered.
The mine was opened in May 2001, but factors including labour conflicts and management issues forced the facility shut, ceasing operations in 2004. In 2011, the National Environment and Planning Agency declared the site a restricted area under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act, Mining Act and Public Health Act. On Tuesday, a padlocked gate with a sign warning against possible trespassing bore testament to the development.
But almost two decades since the AusJam Mining Limited's gold-mining facility ceased operations, residents still lament that their expectations of what the grand find would bring to Pennants and the neighbouring farming communities did not materialise. They told THE STAR that they felt cheated, adding that a holistic development of the area and its infrastructure should have been made a priority.
OLD HIM COME FI DIG
"Them trick wi an' tek di whole a di gold and gone. Wi all tell the man fi mek road and di man say a gold him come fi dig, him neva come yah fi buil' road, because first of all, a dirt road deh a Australia. Dat di man say,'' alleged one resident in reference to the mining facility's Australian owner.
Farmer Lennox Lee said he too had high hopes for proper roads.
"Wi did expect say wi would a get road and water, an' wi would a get some work, still," said Lee.
The residents bemoaned, too, that toxic chemicals from the facility were being released into the river, contaminating their main source of water.
But for Kraal resident Nardia, the area was better off when the gold mine was active. Some 25 residents had been employed by the facility, and Nardia said it was also an economic boost for the community as it provided customers for many small business owners.
"We would even have better things like road and water because when the gold mine was open, wi have running water come right up here. And when the gold mine close down, them tek up the pipes. Now we back to [depending] on rain or we affi buy water," added Nardia.
One resident, who gave his name as Bally, told THE STAR that he was employed at the mining facility, and contrary to claims that the gold had been depleted, there is a lot more to be mined.
"Mi use to have all [gold] crumbs, enuh, mi nuh know where them end up. Gold used to deh all 'bout di place over deh. All some piece weigh all 30 pounds or more. Whole heap more gold lef' over deh. Nuh mek dem tell unuh say no more nuh over deh. One whole heap down di gully an' all 'bout," alleged Bally.
Residents believe plans are under way to resume mining at the facility, citing several visits by "big men" to the area in recent times.