Jamaica eyes 'big share' of US, Canada limestone market

JAMAICA has big plans to tap into the limestone market of Caricom and the Americas, which is said to have valued US$140 million over the last five years.

The key findings of the recently conducted Limestone Market Assessment Project revealed that there are good market opportunities in the domestic, regional and extra-regional markets for limestone aggregate, ground calcium carbonate, quicklime, and additives in various kinds of building plasters. These and other findings were presented yesterday at the Limestone symposium held at the head office of Jampro, the island's investment promotion agency.

The project identified market opportunites in Caricom and the Americas for limestone aggregate that is being serviced from other suppliers, who have over the last five years earned US$140 million.

"Our intention must be to go for a big share of the lucrative US market for limestone that industry experts say will demand 25 million tons in 10 years, and the Canadian market that will demand 2.3 billion," said Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, State Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

Estimates show that there's a reserve of 150 billion tons, of which 50 billion tons are recoverable.

Even so, Jamaica would need special features to displace competitors who already have a strong foothold.

But this is dependent on factors that include the quality of the limestone, a central shipping port that facilitates access to large markets in Central, North and South America and the availability of bulk and ocean freight containerised services, according to the study.

Phase one of the project, which is currently being undertaken, looks specifically at the market capabilities and what can be produced. It also examines the quarries that are in operation locally.

Meanwhile, the remaining stages will assess how investors can be attracted to the market and the technical assistance that would have to be given to the companies that intend to enter the market, the partnerships that need to be formed and the implementation of new products.

It was conceptualised by the investment agency and undertaken by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Science, Technology, and Energy and Mining. While the assessment was done by Conrad Douglas and Associates and was funded by the Centre for the Development of Enterprises (CDE).

"Jamaica is considered as the limestone capital of the world," said Douglas, the principal consultant of the project and executive chairman of Conrad Douglas and Associates.

About 60 per cent of the island by weight and about 80 per cent of the total surface comprises limestone, he said.

But Douglas emphasised that a contact survey and analysis should be conducted in target markets for the export of the products.

Jamaica Observer
Published Date: 
Friday, November 15, 2013