Caribbean Cement Company Limited (Carib Cement) opened its doors in Jamaica in 1952. Since then, the company has seen several changes in ownership over the years with its first owners being the Jamaican Government. Today, Carib Cement is owned by Trinidad Cement Limited Group (TCL). TCL is not just the majority shareholder in Carib Cement but is also the owner of seven other cement companies in Trinidad, Barbados, Anguilla, and Guyana.
Caribbean Cement Company was conceptualized in 1921. However, serious consideration was only given to the idea in the years just prior to the end of World War II. There was much argument and debate prior to the opening of the company for commercial production in 1952.
The arguments used for a local plant were: to curb the shortage of cement being experienced as a result of the war; the presence of a large local market; an adequate supply of cement for government’s building projects and to utilize the shipping space made available by the reduction of cement imports for other necessary commodities.
Also, it was the aim to produce and sell on the local market at a price less that the cement imported from Britain. Before the war, cement was shipped from Britain at a cost four times the cost of producing in Jamaica.
The first proposed site for the cement plant was Port Henderson, because it was at the entrance to the Kingston Harbour and was in an area rich in limestone deposits.
In 1945, approval was granted by the House of Representatives for a local company to be formed under the control of Associated Portland Cement Manufacturing Limited (APCML), with whom government had been in discussion since 1938. The proposed structure was for APCML to own 80% of the company and the remaining 20% to go to Jamaican companies and individuals. A plant with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes per annum was being considered. There was much public debate and pressure on the government because of what many considered to be an unfavourable position to the people of Jamaica. APCML expected a return of 12.5%. This meant that at best, the local price of cement would have been minimally less than the price of the British imported product. The negotiations which ensued between the government and APCML were deadlocked, and in 1947, APCML rejected the government’s offer.
In 1947, Caribbean Cement Company Limited was incorporated and in 1948, accepted the government’s cement franchise terms for the construction of a plant with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes.
Founders of the new company included the well-known Canadian-British industrialist Sir William Stephenson. Sir William served as Chairman for nearly 20 years and had earned the name “Intrepid” as a result of intelligence work done during the war.
The new proposed site was Harbour Head, with easy access to mineral deposits and a deep water harbour. The start-up capital was £1,200,000, to be raised in Jamaica and partially in London and New York. This sum was finally raised by 1951, 4½ years later.
The company opened its doors on January 28, 1952 and started commercial production a few weeks later, on February 8.
Key Milestones in Our History
Carib Cement was incorporated. (August 10)
First Annual Report produced. (December 31)
First Annual General Meeting. (September 15)
Work on factory commenced.
Official opening of factory.
Plant capacity was doubled.
Plant capacity – 400,000mt. 3rd Prodn line and Kiln 3 added.
National Investment Corp. (now NIBJ) owned 90.3% shares.
Plant capacity – 600,000mt. Dry process line installed.
NIBJ now owned 99.4% of shares.
NIBJ divested its majority holding to the public.
Jamaica Gypsum and Quarries Limited was acquired.
Rockfort Mineral Bath Complex Limited was incorporated.
Government now controlled 43% of the company’s shares.
TCL Group acquired Government’s 43% holding.
TCL’s holding increased to 74.1% due to a rights issue.
Rockfort Mineral Bath subleased due to restructuring.
Highest clinker production (529,381tonnes).
Work commenced on Kiln 5 and Cement Mill 5
Kiln 5 commissioned
Mill 5 commissioned
Carib Cement celebrated its 60th Anniversary
Upgrades in August, 2016 – the company moved to producing 3,200 tonnes of clinker per day.
The addition of its world-class kiln and mill, commissioned in 2008 and 2009 respectively, has placed Carib Cement in a strategic position as a major exporter of cement in the region.