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Industrial Chemical upgrades salt refinery, looks to Caricom for new markets

Published:Friday | September 11, 2015 | 9:00 AMTameka Gordon

Jamaica's sole manufacturer of salt, Industrial Chemical Company (ICC), says it hopes to tap more CARICOM markets for the additional volumes to be produced at its new plant, which is in the process of being commissioned.

Industrial Chemical now has the capacity to process some seven tonnes of salt per hour with equipment purchased from Spain.

With the old equipment, the company had capacity of 10 tonnes per hour, but output was low.

"Because over the years we were downrated, we were probably running at half that, so the (new plant) gives us a higher capacity," said Managing Director Lyndon Nugent, following a tour of the plant on Wednesday.

Though the company had re-tooled over the years, some of its equipment became obsolete and Industrial Chemical had to get parts custom-built, he said, which made the plant's performance unpredictable.

"Here now, we have a system where it's all new; it's more predictable," he Nugent said.

The US$2-million expansion was financed by a loan from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).

Industrial Chemical sells 10 per cent of its output to export markets but wants to ramp that up to one-third within the next five years. The added volumes would be targeted particularly at northern Caribbean countries, said Nugent.

The company services both the retail and commercial markets. Bulk sales account for 20 per cent of the company's sales under its Solar line, while 35 per cent is distributed to retail channels under the Freeflo and Ocean brands.

Freeflo sales account for 90 per cent of the market.

Industrial Chemical began operations in 1960 as a manufacturer of sulphuric acid, which was an important material used in the bauxite mining and processing operations in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Its main products now include salt, sulphuric acid and aluminum sulphate.

The company is also the only large-scale provider of sulphuric acid in Jamaica. Its aluminum sulphate is sold to water utility companies throughout the Caribbean and Latin America for the purification of potable water.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com