New US$2-m new salt-refining facility seeks overseas markets

ICC chairman lauds economic conditions

Thursday, September 10, 2015

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SALT refinery Industrial Chemical Company (ICC) Ja Ltd, manufacturer of Freeflo and Ocean salts, is pushing to increase exports to between 30 and 40 per cent of total earnings by targeting markets outside of the boundaries of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) in light of the recent construction of a new salt-refining facility.


Following the official opening ceremony of the new salt refinery in Spanish Town on Wednesday, Managing Director Lynden Nugent told the Jamaica Observer that the overarching vision which resulted in the new plant is "to leverage our considerable experience, infrastructure and know-how to expand in the existing business, and invest in off-shoots where they arise, with a view to maximise our local sales as well as moving toward, over a five-year period, pushing to a minimum" of a third of earnings.


The new refinery will also enhance the company's vision to differentiate the offering of its core product -- sea salt, baker's salt, brine salt, solar salt, and iodised salt -- Nugent said, clarifying some key points made by newly installed Chairman Peter Melhado in his address.


Melhado, who was recently appointed chairman of ICC's board following the tenure of R Danny Williams, said despite the quiet nature of the company and its products not being so glamorous, the new addition to the salt-refining plant signalled the company's intention to innovate.


"This plant will also allow us to accelerate our innovation agenda, including the introduction of a wide range of salt options to our discerning customers here in Jamaica, as well as in the export markets," Melhado said, adding, "This investment ensures us a platform to effectively compete in Caricom and beyond."


Bonaire


The company, which imports raw salt from the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, should also see a reduction in energy costs and an increase in output as the new refinery -- unlike the previous that used fuel oil, sulphur, and other ingredients for energy and produces less -- will now only be powered by liquid petroleum gas.


"The complete package is worth some US$2 million; it's the most modern salt plant available, a state-of-the-art machine that reduces our energy footprint, increases our yields, enhances quality, and very importantly ensures a safe environment for our seriously committed ICC staff members," Melhado said.


But while thanking Development Bank of Jamaica, Sagicor Bank, and Tank Weld for partnering with ICC to complete the project, the chairman stressed that the country's current economic conditions and the effect of public-private partnerships also influenced the company's decision to invest in the new facility.


"We want to play our part in recognising the tremendous effort that has been made by public and private sector leaders to bring our economy back from the brink to a level of nascent stability; stability that encourages firms like ours to invest," he said.


"Part of this event is that we are here as a message to the many stakeholders in the economy that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and with continued collective effort, we can translate hard-won gains into growth."


Melhado also lauded ICC's late founder Barclay Ewart for the company's growth, stating: "He eschewed the heavy returns of government debt in the 1990s and instead invested in machinery, processes, and most importantly, people. And it is his legacy that we carry on here today."



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