Unlike the oil and gas industries that extract and market petroleum products, the mining industries extract and market asphalt and minerals which are used by the construction sector.
As it relates to minerals, sand and gravel, blue limestone and sand are produced in the largest quantities. In the Northern Range, blue limestone, sharp sand and gravel are extracted while in central Trinidad, red sand, yellow limestone and clay are quarried. To the south, operators extract oil sands, asphalt and porcellanite. In Tobago the main material quarried is andesite. These minerals are mainly used in the construction industry.
State-owned and locally –owned private companies dominate the extraction and production of minerals in T&T. State-owned Trinidad Lake Asphalt Limited is the only asphalt industry company and state-owned National Quarries Company Limited is the largest operator in the mining industry.
According to data from the Ministry of Energy, there are 91 active mining operators in Trinidad and Tobago – not all of which are licensed to operate. Only 10% of the companies have valid licenses while the vast majority (90%) either operate with expired licenses, are in the licensing acquisition process or are otherwise unengaged from the licensing process. A further 66 new mining license applications are before the Ministry while there are also 55 mineral processing plants operating without licenses.
Challenges Facing the Mining Industry:
- Large number of unlicensed operators: Implementing a better licensing system should help to improve the licensing application process.
- Poor collection of royalty payments by the Government: To address this, the government may wish to develop systems to independently verify mineral production and hire more certified staff to audit quarry production
- Illegal quarrying: Better coordination between the National Security agencies, the Ministry of Energy and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).