Business & Economy

Cuban miner touts deals with Spanish, Brazilian firms

Jaruco, Cuba, May 17 (EFE).- Cuba’s state-owned Minera de Occidente mining company announced agreements to supply Spanish and Brazilian firms with calcium carbonate and zeolites.

Starting in July, Winperas, a joint venture of Minera and Spain’s Winkler Panamericana, will receive 400 tons a month of calcium carbonate from Minera for distribution in Cuba.

Winperas has been selling Spanish-produced calcium carbonate in Cuba and the substitution of the Cuban-sourced mineral will save the island $4 million a year, Minera de Occidente executive Rolando Tapanes told Efe.

Calcium carbonate is used to make a wide range of products: from cement and glass to toothpaste, and also has important applications in water and waste treatment.

Cuba’s Communist government is pushing import substitution to cut down on expenditure amid a short of hard currency as the island’s already battered economy struggles to cope with supply woes and inflation.

Domestic output of cement has fallen from 6 million tons annually in the 1980s to barely a million tons a year now.

On another front, Minera de Occidente will supply 4,000 tons a year of zeolite – utilized in fertilizer and water treatment – to a company based in Brazil.

Minera’s Coco Peredo open-pit mine and processing plant some 50 km (30 mi) from Havana has capacity to produce 30,000 tons a year of small zeolite crystals and 60,000 tons annually of large crystals.

“Investments allow us to insert ourselves in the international market,” Tapanes said.

“We have quality … we have high productivity, low cost, and what we must do is improve the presentation and conquer the market. That is the process we are in now,” he told Efe. EFE jpm/dr

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