Caribbean Cement aims to double quarry operations
Caribbean Cement Company Limited, CCCL, plans to more than double its gypsum and limestone quarries, a move aimed at supplementing raw materials that are now described as hovering at critically low levels.
The plan requires approval from regulator, the National Environment & Planning Agency, NEPA.
Caribbean Cement spokeswoman Sophia Lowe-Pinnock told the Financial Gleaner that from a mining perspective 'low levels' of raw materials can equate to several years of supplies, even as much as 20 years. However, the cement producer is yet to comment on the size of the investment to be made in the expansion project and expected timeline for its execution.
Its quarries are operated through subsidiary Jamaica Gypsum & Quarries Limited.
Caribbean Cement wants to extend its Halberstadt Gypsum Quarry from 2.0 kilometres to 6.7 kilometres; and establish a limestone quarry at Harbour Head spanning 50 acres, which is contiguous to an existing quarry. Both quarries would be within proximity to its plant at Rockfort in Kingston.
"Supplies at the gypsum quarry in Halberstadt and the limestone quarry in Harbour Head are at a critical level and as such additional deposits need to be secured," said the Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA report done for Caribbean Cement by Enviro Planners Limited.
The document describes the projects at both quarry sites as an "extension/expansion of an existing permitted operations to adjacent lands". The report done in January was published on NEPA's website this month.
The proposed operation at Halberstadt will process 200,000 tonnes of gypsum per year from 6.7 hectares of land, while Harbour Head will process 800,000 tonnes of limestone per year from 20 hectares of land or 50 acres, stated the EIA.
The company envisages that each operation would involve activities such as drilling, blasting, material transport and stockpiling, as well as the crushing or processing of materials. The quarries are roughly 8.5 kilometres apart.
The gypsum mine at Halberstadt is the only location of known deposits of that material in economic quantities in the island. Separately, the company wants additional mining space at Harbour Head because of a specific chemical composition of the limestone in that area.
"The mineral currently available from the existing limestone quarry poses a serious challenge to derive to correct blend proportion to meet the requirement of ordinary Portland cement, manufactured by CCCL. Based on borehole sample analysis, the chemistry of the mineral from the proposed Harbour Head Quarry is ideal for blending with Limestone form the existing Quarry," the environmental report stated.
An initial EIA was done in 2013 by another firm, which outlined other socio-economic details of the project. Arising from that report, Caribbean Cement was granted 1.0 kilometre of the proposed 6.7 kilometres, and was recently granted access to an additional kilometre.
"The EIA of 2013 done by CL Environmental presented comprehensive information on the same region and is considered to be still applicable, and was therefore adopted for this report," said Enviro Planners in its 2018 report.
Limestone represents 80 per cent of the raw material input necessary for producing clinker, which is an intermediary product in the manufacturing of cement.
The value of Caribbean Cement's limestone reserves are not stated in its financial reports, however, it does indicate that it leases land from the Government of Jamaica for limestone mining.
"The annual lease charge is $700,000 and the lease term has 32 years remaining but exploitable reserves are expected to have a life of 20 years based on the current extraction rate," the company said in its audited financial report for 2017.
Caribbean Cement made net profit of $1.15 billion on revenues of $16.5 billion last year. The company, which has traded on the Jamaica Stock Exchange for 49 years, is a subsidiary of Trinidad Cement Limited but is ultimately owned by Cemex of Mexico.