Deep in the heart of Jamaica, the soil is red and has more clay than silt or sand. It is similar to Georgia clay or Virginia soil but there are some differences. The biggest difference is the presence of bauxite, an aluminum hydroxide, which is extracted to make aluminum.
Only found in a few countries, bauxite is highly sought after. Jamaica is ranked fourth in bauxite production after Guinea (1st), Australia (2nd) and Vietnam (3rd). Even in Jamaica, it is hard to find a high concentration of it in the red clay. Here, in Harmons, Jamaica (where we are serving God) there are some of the richest bauxite veins in all of Jamaica.
It all started in the 1970’s, when a mining company came and tested the soil of Harmons. When finding the soil high in bauxite, they proceeded to buy as much of the valley as they could from the local people. These people (well below the poverty line) were farmers and when they were offered very little money they sold almost immediately thinking that they were making a fortune. The bauxite company promised to build drinking water tanks at each end of Harmons and relocate people whose land they had bought.
No mining took place in Harmons until a new generation was born. Approximately four years ago, the bauxite company started mining. This generation of farmers was forced to relocate as the bauxite company tore through the land their parents had sold for almost nothing.
The mining created acre upon acre of red muddy canyons through the valley of Harmons. When the global economy fell in 2008, the mining slowly dwindled to what it is today, a trickle of trucks taking the red soil from a few strip mines in the neighborhood. None of the land has been reclaimed and none of the promised water tanks placed in Harmons. Countless people go without water for weeks, collecting off their roofs or carrying water from a government reservoir. A few houses of relocated residents were built, but the vast majority live in tin shacks.
Next time you take a drink out of a can, fly on an airplane or cover your food, remember Harmons, Jamaica. The landscape is barren, people are void of a consistent source of water, and homes are unsafe shacks.
As consumers of this natural resource, aren’t we responsible to do something? Please consider writing our federal senators, Honorable Toomey and Casey, at www.toomey.gov and www.casey.gov about the aluminum industry.