The mining division of the Ministry of Transport and Mining is placing greater focus on the diversification of the minerals sector. In an interview with JIS News at the recent 24th Bauxite and Alumina Conference, Principal Director, Minerals Policy Planning and Development Division in the Ministry, Dr. Oral Rainford, said that the development of industrial minerals has been placed on the Division’s agenda.
“To a large extent, the minerals sector here is focused on bauxite and alumina. We now need to truly develop the limestone industry and related operations,” he said, noting that in excess of 70 per cent of the surface geology of the country is limestone.
“We have not yet started to fully utilise the limestone, and if we are able to integrate that industry into the economy, then we will begin to produce quite a number of products which will have significant value and will find wide use in many different areas,” Dr. Rainford added. He pointed out that there are other naturally occurring minerals such as sand and gravel, skid-resistant aggregates from hard volcanic rocks, gypsum, shale and pozzolan or aluminium silicate.
Dr. Rainford explained that pozzolan is a volcanic material that is now used exclusively in the manufacturing of cement. He pointed out that in the process it replaces klinker, which would no longer have to be imported, and that in eliminating the importation of klinker, production costs have gone down.
“This is a material that we have here in Jamaica, so having uncovered the pozzolan, we are manufacturing everything that we need, and now we’re able to export cement and cement related materials,” he said.
“We have a fair amount of pozzolan to last at least for the next 35 years and possibly more. Once we would have done the required exploratory works, we believe we will uncover additional material,” he added. According to Dr. Rainford, Jamaica has a large quantity of shale, and somewhat less in terms of gypsum.
“We have not realised the potential of these minerals, but as the economy becomes more focused on manufacturing and as it becomes more developed, you will find that greater use is being made of industrial minerals,” he explained.