Jamaica - Mining



Jamaica in 2000 was the third-leading producer of alumina, with3.6 million tons, accounting for 7.4% of world production, and was the fourth-leading producer of bauxite, with 11.1 million tons, gross weight dry equivalent, accounting for 8.8% of world production. Bauxite production declined 5.1%, mainly because of an explosion in the Louisiana alumina refinery of Jamaica's largest bauxite company, Kaiser; shipments to the refinery were expected to resume by the end of 2000. Mining and quarrying contributed 8.6% to GDP in 1995, with 98% of that coming from bauxite and alumina. In 2002, bauxite was the country's second-leading industry, behind tourism, and alumina and bauxite were the two leading export commodities, accounting for more than 50% of total value of exports in 2000. Firm bauxite and alumina demand coupled with strong prices had the government and private sector cooperating to increase production; in the 1980s, a global glut of alumina severely hurt the Jamaican bauxite and alumina industries. The alumina decrease was partly the result of labor strikes at all refineries. Production of minerals was led by the private sector, and large international companies were responsible for all the bauxite and alumina produced in the country. The government agreed in 1999 to reduce the bauxite levy; bauxite ores were expected to last 100 years.

In 2000, Jamaica produced 330,441 tons of gypsum, up from 154,451 in 1998, and an estimated 267,215 tons of lime. Quality marble was found in the Blue Mountains, and silica sand, limestone, clays, salt, hydraulic cement, marl and fill, and sand and gravel were also exploited. Australia's Ausjam Mining began the first recorded gold-mining operation in Jamaica in 2000, in Pennants.

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