Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, while seeking to restore the bauxite and alumina industry to its pre-eminent position, has his eyes sharply focused on “unleashing the potential of Jamaica’s limestone."
During his recent introductory meeting with the newly installed Clarendon Alumina Productions Board at the offices of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute in Kingston, the Minister alluded to the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s (PIOJ) Sector Plan for Mining and Quarrying.
The PIOJ has identified mining and quarrying as one of the strategic priority areas of the ‘Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan’.
“Jamaica’s limestone resources are by far the largest mineral resources possessed by the country and the mineral is fast becoming the most commonly used substance with the most diverse end use structure of any industrial material,” Mr. Paulwell said.
Echoing the Minister’s sentiments, industry sources indicate that Jamaica, with its abundance of the mineral, can attract major companies which may be prepared to invest heavily in the Jamaican limestone industry on the basis that they have the market for US$1 billion worth of exports over the next five years.
The studies indicate that Jamaica’s bauxite/alumina industry is in its mature stage, with recent problems of fluctuating demand and declining reserves. A year ago, Mining Ministry sources indicate that at a mining rate of 15 million tonnes per year, known (accessible) reserves are expected to last for 40 years.
By contrast, the Jamaican non-metallic minerals sub-sector is still in the early stages of its economic development and growth.
Jamaica’s most abundant mineral is limestone, with a volume of approximately 50 to 60 billion tonnes. Limestone deposits in Jamaica account for 65 per cent of the island by weight, and 85 per cent of its surface coverage. A high proportion of Jamaica’s limestone is considered“high purity grade."
Most of the country’s limestone output is used in the local construction industry as well as in the manufacture of calcined and hydrated lime for various applications, such as bauxite refinement, flocculants, fillers and agricultural purposes.
The Mining and Quarrying Sector Plan provides for the “development of a world-class minerals sector that: increases the value of the nation’s mineral resources by developing higher value production; is guided by responsible environmental stewardship with minimal harmful environmental impacts; contributes to the sustainable development of mining communities; and ensures the health and safety of workers."
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter