Guyana now has its first cement manufacturing facility. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds
commissioned the multi-million dollar Caricom Cement Manufacturing Plant at Edinburgh, Everton, East Bank Berbice on Saturday.
The facility is located in the former Berbice Mining Enterprises (BERMINE) bauxite mining plant.
Among those at the commissioning, cutting of the ribbon and ceremonial unveiling of the plaque were Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Irfaan Ali; Region Six Chairman, Mr. David Armogan; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Caricom Cement Inc, Mr. Roshan Habbibullah; and Caricom Cement Company Chairman, Dr. Joshua Safeek.
Guyana’s first cement-manufacturing facility can produce some 11.7 million tonnes per annum and more than 500,000 tonnes of clinker. Clinker refers to lumps or nodules, usually three millimetres to 25 millimetres in diameter, produced by sintering limestone and alumino-silicate materials such as clay during the cement kiln stage.
CEO Mr. Habbibullah said that a second line is soon to be added to the facility and boost production significantly. Local materials will be used to make the final product, cement. The facility, located in the same compound as Caricom Cement-bagging facility, is now expected to provide additional employment.
Some 250 more persons are expected to be employed next month.
Outlining the difficulties of having such a facility in Guyana, due to the unavailability of
local ingredients, the official stated that the company has used its ingenuity to use alternative raw materials.
He said that except for Shell Beach, Guyana does not have a ready supply of limestone, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of cement. Since Shell Beach is a Protected Area and cannot be touched, other materials containing calcium carbonate are mined and used.
Habbibullah specifically mentioned another hard-to-get ingredient, Pozzolana, also known as pozzolanic ash. Pozzolana is of volcanic origin, and is readily available in Caribbean countries that have active volcanoes. He identified Martinique and Montserrat. The company has embarked on collecting the waste from the rice milling process for addition to the mixture.
The facility, he said, is also capable of making different things using the same cement- making machinery and equipment.
“What is set up here has the capability and flexibility to produce other products…and we don’t have to change the equipment. It’s the same capital investment,” he said.
Other by-products the plant can manufacture include grout, propones, and calcium aluminate cement, which is used extensively in the steel industry.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds said, that the bauxite industry is very closely attached to the cement industry. He said that several proposals came up during those times about the intentions in the 1970s and 1980s to make cement in Guyana.
“It’s quite a challenge to undertake cement- making in Guyana. We had a lot of persons who considered it before, but unto this day, no one has tried it,” he said. “I commend Mr. Safeek for taking this bold step—and I wish him all success!”
He said how challenging the venture would be, to achieve levels of productivity, “with respect to quality control, to overcome the lack of natural advantages to produce cement in Guyana. It’s not going to be a ‘piece of cake’…It’s going to be a challenge that has been on our table, for decades.”
Dr. Safeek described Saturday’s opening as a proud day for him and his team. He said that construction of the cement-manufacturing unit commenced in 2010.
“It feels good because it’s needed,” he added. Dr. Safeek added that several years ago, cement used to be $350 per sack, “and every year, (the price) kept increasing.
“Cement has basically gone out of the reach of the poor man, so this (factory) will fix the problem and bring it within the budget range of $1,000 to reach our people—it is great for our people!”
“We are slowly integrating technology in phases. We built the plant in phases,” he added. Phase One, the bagging plant, started in August 2010, while the third phase, the heart and soul of the cement plant, started in January 2014.
The official said that Caricom Company will start Phase Four of the investment, shortly, in the Berbice River. The mining- for- minerals venture will create more employment, he added.
“This community (Edinburgh, Everton) was basically a depressed community when we came here, but this company has been putting basically $1B every year into the Berbice community in spending, and that would be very good for the people up the Berbice River.”
Caricom Cement Company was established in 2010 and has an insurance subsidiary, Caricom Insurance, established countrywide. The Caricom Group of Companies has an employment base of over 500.
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