What Are Some Natural Resources Found In Jamaica?
Natural resources found in Jamaica - Contributed by Javia Rose
What's that? What do you mean by natural resources?
Natural resources refer to the things that exist freely in nature for human use and don’t necessarily need the action of mankind for their generation or production.
Some recognizable examples of natural resources are:
- Air which provides wind energy,
- Coal which act as an input for electricity,
- Forests which provide paper, wood and various medicines,
- Water which is used for drinking and production of hydroelectric energy, and
- Sunlight that is used for drying clothes, photosynthesis and solar energy.
The key aspect of natural resources is that they dictate the survival of humans and other life forms on earth.
Types Of Natural Resources
There are two types of Natural resource - these are:
- Renewable Resources
- Non-renewable Resources
Renewable resources are the ones that are consistently available regardless of their use. They can be fairly recovered or replaced after utilization. Examples include vegetation, water, and air.
Non Renewable Resources
Non-renewable resources are the ones that cannot simply be substituted or recovered once they have been utilized or destroyed. Examples of such natural resources include fossil fuels and minerals.
Now that we’ve established what are natural resources, the two types of natural resources, and examples of each, let me get shift focus back to your question, What are some natural resources found in Jamaica
Jamaica is blessed with an abundant of natural resources, however the three most recognizable are bauxite, gypsum and limestone
Bauxite is found mainly in the central parishes of St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Ann, and Trelawny - there are four alumina plants and six mines.
Jamaica has deposits of several million tons of gypsum on the southern slopes of the Blue Mountains while the richest deposits of limestone is found in St. Elizabeth, Portland and Trelawny.
Bauxite is the ore from which aluminium is made or an amorphous clayey rock that is the chief commercial ore of aluminium. It consists largely of hydrated alumina with variable proportions of iron oxides.
Fact: Did you know that Jamaica contains some of the largest known deposits of bauxite in the world?!
As the country’s third highest earner of foreign exchange, with approximately US$1 billion in annual gross earnings, the bauxite and alumina industry continues to be a vital contributor to the Jamaican economy.
Interested in how bauxite is processed into aluminium?
How Aluminium is produced from Bauxite
The first step in producing aluminium is to crush the bauxite and purify it using the Bayer Process. In the Bayer Process, the bauxite is washed in a hot solution of sodium hydroxide, which leaches aluminium from the bauxite.
The aluminium is precipitated out of solution in the form of aluminium hydroxide, Al(OH)3. The aluminium hydroxide is then calcined to form alumina, Al2O3. Aluminium is smelted from the alumina using the Hall-Heroult Process.
In the Hall-Heroult Process, the alumina is dissolved in a molten bath of cryolite (Na3AlF6). Molten aluminium is removed from the solution by electrolysis. This process uses an enormous amount of electricity. Aluminium is usually produced where electricity costs are very low.
Aluminium mining is a metal naturally found on the earth’s crust in the form of bauxite. Because bauxite is an ore which contains aluminium oxide or alumina, it must be washed and crush for surface mining. After mining, most of the bauxite is carried to alumina plants where it is refined into alumina.
Uses of Bauxite
Bauxite is used as the main raw material for alumina making, which in turn is utilized for aluminium manufacturing. It is also used in a number of non metallurgical sectors like refractory, abrasive, cement, steel making and chemicals.
Gypsum is a sedimentary mineral. It is found in layers that were formed under salt water millions of years ago.
The water evaporated and left the mineral. Gypsum is composed of calcium sulfate (CaSO4) and water (H2O). Gypsum is a rock like mineral commonly found in the earth’s crust, extracted, processed and used by man in construction or decoration in the form of plaster and alabaster - if added to some bread and dough mixes as a Calcium source and baking aid.
Gypsum can be found in the Port Royal Mountains of eastern St. Andrew where it is mined by quarrying. It is usually used in Jamaica as a retarder for cement.
It is ground with cement in the proportion of approximately 1 part to 20 parts of cement. Another use is in the manufacture of plaster of Paris, which is used to make ceiling tiles and plaster.
Most of the gypsum produced in Jamaica is exported to the USA, where it is made into plaster, which is then used to manufacture wall boards. It is also used as a fertilizer.
Uses of Gypsum
- Be used as a filler and fire retardant in plastic products.
- Be used in Portland cement and special cement products for set and expansion control.
- Be a source of Calcium and Sulphate Sulphur for plant growth.
- Be used as a modelling material for tooth restorations.
- Be an ingredient in many patching compounds.
- Be used with glass to fabricate large, lightweight architectural decorations.
- Be used as a mould material to fabricate custom body parts for trucks and automobiles.
- Be an aid in juice extraction of some fruits and vegetables
Limestone is a hard sedimentary rock, composed mainly of calcium carbonate or dolomite, used as building material and in the making of cement.
It most commonly forms in clear, warm, shallow marine waters. It is usually an organic sedimentary rock that forms from the accumulation of shell, coral, algal, and fecal debris.
It can also be a chemical sedimentary rock formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate from lake or ocean water. Most limestones form in shallow, calm, warm marine waters. That type of environment is where organisms capable of forming calcium carbonate shells and skeletons can easily extract the needed ingredients from ocean water.
When these animals die, their shell and skeletal debris accumulate as a sediment that might be lithified into limestone. Their waste products can also contribute to the sediment mass.
Limestones formed from this type of sediment are biological sedimentary rocks. Their biological origin is often revealed in the rock by the presence of fossils.
Some limestones can form by direct precipitation of calcium carbonate from marine or fresh water. Limestones formed this way are chemical sedimentary rocks.
Limestone in Jamaica is usually extracted by quarrying in open pits. Vegetation and top soil must be removed first. Where the limestone is soft, it can easily be ripped using heavy equipment.
In harder varieties, the limestone may have to be blasted. Jamaican limestone varies from a relatively soft chalk that may be easily ground or crushed, to very hard rock that can only be broken by a hammer or crushed using mechanical crushers.
Apart from being essential to the production of cement, limestone is also used in building construction and as a fill in road construction. Limestones can be crushed to form aggregates for construction or cut into large blocks to make slabs for decorative purposes. It may also be incorporated in pharmaceuticals such as antacids or foods like bubble gum.
Uses of Limestone
Limestone is a rock with an enormous diversity of uses:
- Most limestone is made into crushed stone and used as a construction material.
- It is used as a crushed stone for road base and railroad ballast.
- It is used as an aggregate in concrete.
- It is fired in a kiln with crushed shale to make cement . It is the primary ingredient in Jamaican cement.
- It is also used in glass manufacturing to allow the components in glass to melt at low temperatures.
- Used to manufacture lime.
A key driver of the Jamaican economy, these three resources, which drives the local minerals industry in Jamaica, includes a range of commercial operations based on their discovery, development, management and utilization.
Whew! Quite a mouthful isn't it?
But good for you... you've just discovered the chief natural resources of Jamaica, how they can be extracted and the uses of each. Now you can impress your friends :-)
We are such a blessed country! 'You nu tink suh?' (Don't you think so?) I welcome your comments below
About The Author
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