On the heels of its breakthrough into the continental US, Lydford Mining Company is gearing up to supply another new market with aggregates.
“In the next two weeks, we will be shipping 8,000 tonnes of the construction grade limestone to a new customer in Bermuda, which will be another first for us,” said Director Edgar Cousins in an interview last week.
“Bermuda has never bought from Jamaica before. They, too, were getting it out of Mexico,” he added.
Lydford Mining, which operates out of Ocho Rios in St Ann, has long been an exporter to the United States, supplying ground calcium carbonate used in the food and pharmaceutical market as well as for flue-gas desulphurisation. The material is typically used for reducing emissions from the exhaust gas system of a coal-fired boiler.
But a new agreement with Twin Rivers Land & Timber Inc recently opened up access for Lyford’s construction grade limestone, which the US has sourced from places like Mexico, The Bahamas, as well as NewFoundland and Labrador in Canada.
“Jamaica has never been able to break into that market simply because of the cost structures that we have in the country,” Cousins said.
Its first ship to Savannah, Georgia, included 36,000 metric tonnes of stones.
Both the Bermuda and Georgia contracts are expected to be long-term arrangements.
“The indications are that next year will be a better year for our high-purity materials. It is projected to grow by 20 per cent next year. But these two new contracts, in addition to ongoing expansion plans, are what’s expected to double our business for 2023,” Cousins said.
Regionally, the company supplies markets for construction-grade material and has supplied sand and gravel to customers in Aruba, Guantanamo Bay, and the US Virgin Islands. Lydford Mining also supplies materials manufactured to specification for the construction, animal feed, fertiliser, paint, plastics, and soap industries to the domestic market.
In positioning itself to provide for the needs of the local market as well as effectively compete on an international level, Cousins said Lydford Mining has pumped about US$2 million or J$300 million into the purchase of new equipment which include an impact crusher, filter screen and wash plant.
“We have been replacing a lot of the older equipment and buying new equipment to create greater efficiencies within the business. That’s an ongoing project, but there are other opportunities that are presenting themselves,” he said.
“We are in the process of putting up a fully automated block factory. That is well under way. The equipments are being installed now. The new factory is really to take advantage of the huge construction surge that’s happening even on the local market,” he added.
The company, which straddles two of Jamaica’s fast-growing sectors – construction and mining – currently sees revenues being evenly shared between the local and international market. But that hasn’t always been the case.
“About 15 years ago, we were 100 per cent export,” said Cousins. “We are now probably about 50 per cent export even though the export market has been growing every year. It’s just that the local market is really coming into its own,” he explained.
“Part of that is because over the past three years, we have placed a huge amount of effort into producing an alternative construction sand. The sustainability of the traditional black sand has been in doubt over the last years, and so we have managed to produce a quality specification construction grade limestone sand which is just as good as the river sand,” he added.