Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says the Government is proceeding with the mapping of the country’s limestone and other mineral resources.
"The data generated will be used to actively promote and attract investment in manufacturing, and to harness any unique opportunities that may arise,” the Minister said, during his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 24.
The Minister said that there are several possibilities for limestone, noting that "this abundant, versatile mineral could bring significant economic benefits to Jamaica."
“As we know, there are enormous deposits of high quality, even food grade limestone on our island. This mineral is available in a wide range of grades, with numerous applications and uses, from pharmaceutical to industrial, all for which there is healthy global demand,” he said.
Mr. Paulwell said it is imperative that a more strategic approach be adopted in positioning the country to optimise the use of its mining assets and maximise its earning potential.
“To maximise our revenue earnings from the mining sector, we must diversify the sector by developing the full potential of our industrial minerals – limestone, hard volcanic rocks (for skid resistant aggregate), gypsum, clay and shale – among others,” the Minister said.
He informed that the Government is actively researching new value-adding applications, and to this end, is working closely with the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS), the Mines and Geology Division (MGD), the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) and other agencies.
Mr. Paulwell pointed out that over the past 50 years, billions of dollars have been invested in building a supporting infrastructure for the production of bauxite/alumina and that with the partial closure of the industry, a range of critical assets remain idle or under-utilised.
“Clearly, as a country, we cannot afford to have such assets held idle indefinitely.
There are, for instance, the industrial lime kilns, which have the capacity to produce some 150,000 tonnes of industrial lime. Clearly, there is the opportunity for import substitution and even export. Such options must be actively pursued,” he stressed.