Limestone research finds richest deposits in St Elizabeth, Portland and TrelawnyWednesday, April 26, 2017
BY AVIA COLLINDER
Research on the limestone sector is currently being done with a view to improving the value gained from this mining sector, says Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry.
Henry, in a presentation prepared for the sectora debate released on April 18, pointed out that, “Jamaica is endowed with many large deposits of high-purity limestone that, if developed, can be marketed as powders of high value.”
The islands main limestone operation in St Ann, Lydford Mining, exports about 120,000 tonnes of high-purity limestone, 100,000 tonnes of industrial grade, and 2,000 tonnes of ground material each year.
Limestone deposits, Henry noted, can be used for industrial puposes including paper, paints, chemicals and animal feed, as well as medicinal pharmaceuticals, antacids, and more.
“In order to diversify the national mineral portfolio, encourage cross-sectoral integration, and promote rapid economic development, an assessment of selected high-quality limestone deposits across the island is being done,” Henry outlined.
He disclosed that the agency, Jamaica Bauxite Mining Ltd (JBM), which administers the Government's equity in the bauxite/alumina industry and holds a 51 per cent stake in Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, and 100 per cent of the former Reynolds Operations at Lydford and the cargo port in Ocho Rios, has adopted a strategy aimed at further diversification so as to increase revenues attributable to port operations and property operations.
“Principal among the initiatives is to substantially increase the throughput of limestone and to lease lands and rent vacant buildings, among other logistical services,” Henry stated.
He pointed out that despite the upheaval caused by the global economic crisis, JBM has “performed credibly” with improvements at its Lydford Operations, and continue to make a profit while undertaking all its capital works from cash flow.
For the fiscal year 2016/2017 to February 2017, JBM made profit before tax of $292 million.
With regards to the potential for limestone, the minister said deposits have been studied geologically, and the studies are advancing in the best uses for the materials. In 2016, limestone at Sherwood Forest, Portland, was studied, and it was determined that approximately 2.5 billion tonnes of limestone material is available in this area.
Research, he added, has also been conducted on limestone deposits in targeted areas in St Elizabeth and Trelawny, with combined resources determined to be in excess of six billion tonnes.
He said that during this financial year, the Mines and Geology Division will continue to focus on the production of Economic Geology Evaluation Reports for limestone deposits in the parishes of Trelawny and St Elizabeth.
“These reports will provide more detailed information that will guide investors regarding the areas that show good potential for development,” he noted.
In other mining developments, Henry said the division also continues to conduct research and development of viable sources of skid-resistant rock materials for use on transportation-wearing surfaces such as airport runways and highways.
This islandwide assessment, he outlined, has focused on large rock bodies suitable for producing skid-resistant aggregate with the aim of determining their properties.
In December 2015, Jamaica was one of six countries which were selected to participate in the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme. The country has been granted funding of €750,000 which will focus on a capacity-building programme to improve the management of industrial minerals, construction minerals, dimension stones, and semi-precious stones.
Development in the production of sand from hard rocks, or manufactured sand is also being reviewed, Henry said. “Jamaica has been dependent on river-based sources of sand for construction purposes, but over the years there has been significant depletion of this resource,” he explained, adding that demand for sand continues to be especially high in western Jamaica and there are inadequate river sources for the commodity.