Limestone could be a big income earner - Tufton
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
DR CHRISTOPHER Tufton, co-executive director of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute, has said the mining of limestone could become a major income earner for Jamaica if the right approach is taken to develop the sector.
Tufton made his remarks while addressing Wednesday's inaugural Western Jamaica Economic Forum, which was jointly hosted by the St James Parish Council and the Montego Bay Community College at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
"The potential for limestone and the potential to earn from limestone is huge," said Tufton. "My outlook is that it will become the next big thing in Jamaica from a mining perspective."
Tufton, who spoke extensively on mining, especially issues surrounding the Cockpit Country, during the last Jamaica Labour Party administration, said Jamaica has a huge deposits of quality limestone, which is called marl locally, and is 99 per cent purity grade, according to geological tests.
"We have reserve of some 50 billion tonnes throughout the country and the west has its fair share. We can become high value from limestone products over time," noted Tufton.
While not giving a dollar figure on the proposed earnings to be derived from mining limestone, Tufton said the demand on the world market is increasing and Jamaica should begin to invite international investors to assist with the mining process.
"The demand for limestone is projected by 2020 to be 5.7 billion tonnes when you look at international monitors," continued Tufton. "... but limestone, like bauxite, has a high-energy requirement for processing."
"The best way to get this done quickly is to attract foreign investors into this country who can leverage the network that they have by using the technology that already exists and develop a well-thought-out value-chain industry," added Tufton.
He further noted that, with the abundance of the resource, each parish could develop its own limestone plant. Tufton expressed concern that port facilities would have to be developed to aid in the process of exporting the product.