Por: Jim Harris (Seen in Exploration-Processing, Fall 2010)


With Demand for Limestone on the Rise, Lydford Mining Co. is expanding its Mining Operation into New Investments and Joint Ventures.


One company is finding success and opportunity in the mining industry from its home in the hills of Jamaica. Lydford Mining Co. mines hundreds and thousands of tons of limestone and its derivatives each year from its base in St. Ann, Jamaica, providing raw materials to clients on and off the island.

“We consider ourselves uniquely positioned in that we have huge reserves of high quality limestone right where we are,” Managing Director Edgar Cousins says. “Our reserves are in the hundreds of millions of tons.”

Materials mined by Lydford have a wide range of uses. Limestone is regularly used in construction, and processed as ground calcium carbonate is used as filler for plastics, PVC pipes, fertilizers, animal feeds, paints, industrial cleansers and scouring powders.


The material is growing in demand for use in food and pharmaceutical applications including antacids, vitamins and chewing gum, he adds. “What makes us attractive is we have one of the purest known calcium carbonate deposits in the world with the lowest known lead values,” Cousins says. This high purity limestone is leading Lydford Mininginto the coveted food and drug array of products in the world marketplace.


Processing Capabilities
Lydford processes limestone in a milling operation it owns in St. Ann. Limestone is either broken down to 2.5 inches in size or milled down to three microns in particle size. The larger sizes are shipped off to customers in the United States, where it is processed further, while the smaller, finished limestone is bagged, shrink wrapped, and palletted
for supply to domestic markets in Jamaica as well as Trinidad and Barbados.

The company is also capable of crushing and processing other raw materials including
cement using four track-mounted crushing and screening mobile plants. Lydford is
the only company in Jamaica providing such a high level of mobile processing, Cousins says, “We supply most of the paint companies, fertilizer companies, soap manufacturers and PVC pipe makers in Jamaica,” Cousins says.

“We are fully integrated to give us the flexibility to make our own product primarily for
regional markets; it is our intention, however, to expand the milling operations we have
and go after markets in other regions.” The company’s flexibility has helped it maintain business. “We’re very fortunate in that, during the recession in the United States, we’ve held our own in exports,” Cousins says. “We have seen little decline, but on the other hand the market also didn’t grow.” The prospects are that year 2012 will show significant growth.


In Jamaica, Lydford has seen a demand in building materials in conjunction with the
construction of a major highway now underway. Contractor Bouygues Traveux
Construction of France is working on the project; that company has worked on a
number of major civil projects worldwide, including the English Channel tunnel.

Joint Ventures

Lydford Mining is expanding operations in part through joint ventures. Last year, the

company formed a joint venture with Jamaica Producers Group, a publicly traded agricultural and food production company in their diversification program. The venture, Four Rivers Mining Co. Ltd., mines and processes igneous-based rock used widely
in construction and paving.

Both companies recently invested a total of $3 million to build a new plant on the north coast of Jamaica and purchase equipment. Four RiversMining exports outside of Jamaica primarily within the eastern seaboard of the United States, where a large market for the igneous material exists, he adds. “We intend to take advantage of the opportunities
that are there because we have a number of things going for us here in Jamaica,” Cousins
stresses. “For any mining operation to be a success, you have to first have a source of raw material, as well as a deep water port, shipping, and the markets, and we currently
have those in hand.”

Jamaica Producers Group is a wholly Jamaican-owned company and the country’s largest producer of bananas. “The company was formed with the courageous objective of protecting the co-operative and the local banana industry from demise owing to fierce competition from the large foreign-owned fruit companies in the shipping and marketing of Jamaican bananas,” the company says. “It has since grown from strength to strength, diversifying into shipping and moving up the value chain to provide processed foods like
smoothies, banana chips and juices.”


Lydford Mining also recently entered a joint venture with New York-based TBS Shipping to ship high-purity limestone to Mississippi Lime Co. of St. Louis for a clean coal burning operation. The limestone will be mixed and burned along with coal to remove sulfur dioxide and other contaminants from coal-burning power plants.

The contract calls for 200,000 tons of limestone a year, a number that will double in 2012, he adds. Mississippi Lime is one of the most diversified producers of lime-based products in North America, according to the company.

“High-quality products and reliable service have been the benchmark standard for many of our commodity customers,” it adds. “Our ability to manipulate and control both the chemical and physical properties of limestone allows us to produce specialized calcium-based products; taking the combination of discrete particle size, purity and controlled
reactivity provides the customer with a product tailored to their needs.”

The Lydford/TBS venture also plans to renovate a seven-mile conveyor line system that was last used 15 years ago. The conveyor runs from the company’s mines to a deep water port in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The port, capable of handling ships with capacities of up to 50,000 tons, features an 80,000-ton enclosed storage area and is designed to load up to 3,000 tons per hour.

“We have a goal to bring this operation up to a production of 2 [million] to 3 million tons of raw material a year,” Cousins says.Lydford’s mining experience and reputation help
it find willing business partners. “We operate at a very high international standard,
this is why a lot of companies have been attracted to us and that’s why we’ve been able to engage in these joint ventures,” Cousins says.

Mining Experience
Mechanical and mining engineer Leo Cousins and geologist and chemist Vincent Hill founded Lydford Mining in 1991. Hill, a geologist and chemist, learned of the limestone deposits while working as a chief chemist for a Jamaican mining company, while Cousins has experience in the alumina mining industry, Edgar Cousins says.

The company established mining operations in an existing bauxite mine, making it easier to conform to environmental regulations. “We were lucky in that we have very good people, and that we were able to set up operations in an area that had a history
of mining, so from an environmental perspective we were well received,” he adds.



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