Jamaica Stands to Earn Substantially from Minerals Industry

Senior Director in the Minerals, Policy and Development Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Oral Rainford, has said that Jamaica could conservatively earn in excess of US$50 million annually from the export of basic raw minerals and the figure could easily triple with the inclusion of value-added exports.
According to Mr. Rainford, Jamaica’s aggregate was highly rated and representatives from several countries have expressed interest in the sector.
“We have a situation now where in South Florida, they are willing to take at least US$20 million worth of just sand, gravel and crush stone per year and that is at the lower end. At the higher end, at the value-added stage, the quantity of funds to be raised is much greater. In fact, we need to do a study to properly determine the real extent of what can be earned,” he stated.
He disclosed that one overseas company was taking steps to set up operations in Clarendon and intended to spend more than US$150 million to establish a port and other related infrastructure and develop quarries.
“I’m speaking about in excess of 4 million tonnes of crushed stone per year. Now once you go over four million tonnes per year, you are rivalling the largest bauxite project in Jamaica,” Mr. Rainford said.
This project, he pointed out, would open up several opportunities for employment and careers in the parish, as there would be the need for skills in areas such as mechanical and chemical engineering, electricians, welders and a wide range of non-direct opportunities, including services.
He noted however that for Jamaica to take full advantage of the minerals sector, several initiatives would have to be put in place including the development of critical infrastructure and marketing strategies.
“The infrastructure would definitely have to be put in place particularly training facilities, establishing the right export market, identifying and developing and in some cases building suitable ports for exit. This would afford us to get the material into the various markets,” he stated.
Recently, State Minister with responsibility for the minerals sector, Victor Cummings and a team from the Minerals Development Advisory Committee, which is examining short, medium, and long-term strategies for the development of the industry, toured mining operations in Southern Clarendon.

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