A study has been completed on the reestablishment of a state-owned quarry and it is currently being reviewed by consultants, according to Head of the Works Services Group Geoffrey Vaughn.
“We had the completion of the study for the reestablishment of a state-owned quarry or PPP [Private-Public Partnership] for production and supply. So, hopefully those documents will be ready and we will have them distributed or have them placed where persons can have them to review,” Vaughn said last Thursday at the end-of-year review hosted by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI).
Vaughn added that the study has not been publicly released as yet since consultants are still currently reviewing it.
When questioned by the media as to why the ministry is currently exploring the option, Vaughn explained that despite the operation of several local quarries around the country, companies are still forced to import their stones from external suppliers in countries such as Suriname, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.
He also pointed out that with the imminent rise of the oil and gas industry, there will be an exponential increase in construction and resultantly there will be an increase in the demand for stone.
“These are some of the things we have been looking at from the ministry’s end and we realised that it is time for us to actually look towards getting back into the quarry business,” Vaughn noted, while pointing out that whether the option is economically feasible is still to be settled.
In 2016, contractor China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC) had opted to purchase US$7.5 million worth of stone from Surinamese company Grassalco for the ongoing Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion project.
It had subsequently stated that price and capacity were the sole determinants for opting to import the stone from Suriname instead of buying from local quarries.
The announcement was met with criticism by one local quarry operator, who argued that not only was the move causing the loss of local sales but that there was no stone shortage here to justify outsourcing.
However, the MPI had later noted that the quotes given by local suppliers were higher than CHEC’s Suriname supplier and, therefore, the company chose the more economical source.
In response to questions sent by this newspaper to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, the MPI had said the Surinamese company submitted a quote of US$28 per tonne for the supply and delivery of the stone landed at the Timehri docks. It added that quotes received from the local suppliers ranged from US$36 to US$40 per tonne and that these costs were ex-factory or ex depot costs (i.e. Kingston and East Bank), hence the cost to transport the stone to the site would have to be added.