Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, says the Government welcomes the input of private investors, as it seeks to exploit the full potential of the country’s minerals sector.
Mr. Robinson, who was speaking on Tuesday, June 25, at the opening of the 49th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, noted that the multi-million dollar industry could potentially earn the country millions in foreign exchange.
“We believe that the potential for sustainable growth for this sector is there, and as an administration we are committed to facilitating that growth, primarily through the private investment that is required to exploit the minerals,” he stated.
In 2008, the mining industry contributed 3.8 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), most of which was attributed to bauxite and alumina. At the time, experts also predicted that full exploitation of the minerals sector could potentially earn the country as much as $184 billion a year.
The State Minister said the Geology Forum, which is being held in the Caribbean for the first time, is quite timely and significant, as it opens the door for investors within the sector to witness Jamaica’s full potential.
“Our minerals sector is one that provides tremendous potential for export-led growth, which is really the only way that we as a country can grow our way out of the challenges that we face economically,” he stated.
Mr. Robinson therefore invited the international stakeholders to “explore some of that potential and to facilitate the kind of investment and development that we view as necessary to exploit the minerals to lead to foreign exchange earnings for the country”.
He noted that while the government is focused on export-led growth, it is mindful to ensure that the country retains and takes advantage of more of the value-added components of the industry.
“We don’t simply want to be the exporters of the basic raw material, but we want to look beyond the basic raw material and ensure that we do value-added components and retain most of the value within the country,” the State Minister said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of the Mines and Geology Division in the Ministry, Clinton Thompson, noted that while the global economic crisis has brought on countless challenges for the country’s bauxite-alumina sector, it has also presented a number of opportunities.
“This has given us the opportunity to become much more resourceful in the way we develop and manage our mineral resources,” he said.
Mr. Thompson said that industry stakeholders must now go beyond current knowledge in an effort to find new and expanding uses for the development of industrial minerals, such as lime stone.
“Importantly, we must seek to improve the value chain through mineral-based diversification and value added industrialization. By doing this, we will develop linkages with other sectors, provide greater opportunities, increase wealth and transform our respective economies,” he stated.
The 49th Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals is an international meeting of geologists and mining professionals interested in industrial minerals. The event is being held as part of activities for National Minerals Week 2013, from June 23 to 29, under the theme, ‘Minerals: Creating employment, Generating wealth, and Facilitating development’.