Jamaica can earn US$7B annually from limestone industry – local scientist

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- One of Jamaica’s leading researchers says that the country can earn up to US$7 billion annually by ramping up the production of limestone and its high value-added items, for the local and export markets.

According to, Dr Conrad Douglas, in presenting research findings at a recent stakeholder symposium at JAMPRO’s New Kingston office, the industry offers vast opportunity for investors in agriculture, food processing, and manufacturing.

Dr Douglas the executive chairman of research company, Conrad Douglas and Associates, cited the production of paper, polishes, paints, rubber, glass, cosmetics, plastics and adhesives as possibilities.

“There are great opportunities … what we found was really large. We are talking about total cumulative value for the markets of some US$7 billion,” he said.

According to Dr Douglas, Jamaica is blessed with rich limestone resources and is considered “the limestone capital of the world”.

The country’s limestone resource is estimated 150 billion tonnes of which 50 billion tonnes is recoverable. The main export markets for limestone are Canada, United States, CARICOM, and South America, he said.

“Jamaican limestone is occurring naturally, we have been producing it, and we have been exporting it, and it has found acceptance in the international markets. We have pharmaceutical limestone, we have chemical limestone, and we also have metallurgical limestone (use primarily in the bauxite industry). Limestone has the most diverse end-use structure of all material known by mankind. That, in itself, presents a wide range of opportunities,” said Dr Douglas.

He cautioned, however, that there is need to focus on the production of high value-added products to drive the industry for the future. “We believe that there is opportunity, as found from the study, to ramp-up production to a greater level,” he said.

Dr Douglas said that currently, Jamaica imports limestone products that can be manufactured locally, and some 10 plants across the island can be “ramped-up easily” for the production of these value-added items.

He pointed out, however, that for the development of the sector, a number of legislation relating to planning and development orders need to be amended.

He noted too that “great reliance” will have to be placed on scientists in the development of the industry.

“It means that we have to apply best sciences, and the best technology, and the best environment management practices to embark on a path of sustainable development and the use of creative conservation technologies, which now exist for the rehabilitation of those areas, which we might extract this resource from,” he said.

Dr Douglas’s team is to conduct two other studies on the limestone industry, one looking at the required investment for the sector, while the other will explore technical and environmental plans for the companies involved in the industry.

Source: 
Jamaica Observer
Published Date: 
Tuesday, December 31, 2013