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Havana. November 3, 2014

Calcium carbonate:
A multi-functional mineral

Yosel M. Castellanos

Cuba currently has sufficient reserves of calcium carbonate to meet the demands of the domestic industry for this non-metallic mineral, according to the engineer, Oscar Infante Naples, senior specialist of the GEOMINSAL Group, attached to the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Thanks to different geological studies developed over the years regarding this mineral, the amount of proven reserves and their ability to meet future needs has been established. According to the investigations the country has reserves of close to seven million tons of calcium carbonate. Infante Naples reported that annual extraction capacity is around 250,000 tons, which, based on known and proven reserves will provide for the next 15 to 20 years.

With a medium-superior quality rating, Cuban calcium carbonate is exploited by the GEOMINSAL Group, an enterprise which has established it as a leading product in the non-metallic mineral group. The mineral stands out not only due to its value, but also its impact on domestic industry, since its absence affects a number of basic production systems.

Calcium carbonate plays an important role in the chemical, food, oil and steel industries. It is also used in the production of fertilizers and in the production of soaps, detergents, toothpaste, paint and paper. In agriculture, calcium carbonate is directly applied to the soil, and used in formulations for animal feed.

"Its use is very diverse, in the manufacturing of paint, more than 20% is made up of calcium carbonate, used as a filler. It is used as a base when making soap. In the pharmaceutical industry, it serves as a base for various types of tablets. In the extraction of oil, it is used to obtain a type of sludge to cover and stabilize the walls of the wells; this material is based on calcium carbonate," the GEOMINSAL specialist explained.

By 2015, he added, the enterprise hopes to begin a process of investment in production facilities that will allow for a new micronization system, enabling the company to produce a much finer and higher quality calcium carbonate.

In addition to exploiting calcium carbonate GEOMINSAL conducts everything related to small-scale mining of both metallic and nonmetallic minerals (except nickel and oil), and salt production in the country. In the case of non-metals the Group produces zeolite, magnesite and bentonite, among other minerals.

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