Tobacco is another important agriculture money crop. Cigar production was up 72% in 2001. Forecasts from the Dominican Tobacco Institute are for export of 350 million cigars to the United States and Europe this year, generating US$245 million. 95% of the exports go to the United States. Most cigar producing companies are located in free zones.
The Dominican Republic is the only Caribbean island that for the most part supplies the needs of its eight million population and the meets the demands of upwards of 2.5 million visitors each year. Fertile land is reallocated for increased production of non-traditional farming crops such as winter vegetables and fruits (avocados, mangos, papayas, passion fruit, bananas, pineapples, limes, strawberries). Other crops are rice, corn, potatoes, tubers, beans, spices, peanuts, cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts, coconuts, plantains and citrus fruits also had a good year. Potato production in the DR has boomed, with Frito Lay relying on Dominican farmers for their potato chips. The DR is becoming the leading exporter of potatoes to potato loving Puerto Rico, and
the leading potato exporter of the entire Caribbean.
Agriculture showed an unusual dynamism in 2001 as the country's sugar industry, now with the state sugar mills privatized, regrouped and the private sector reacted to the new competition. After many years of a depressed industry, a 665,540 metric tons sugar harvest is forecast for 2001-2002, up 26% compared to last year's production. Of the total, 453,860 will be exported as raw sugar and 211,680 tons will be refined to supply the local market. The surplus is expected to be exported to Haiti and neighboring Caribbean islands. The largest sugar operation in the country, the Central Romana has increased its sugar refining capacity and Central Pringamosa (newly privatized) will be selling refined sugar on the market for the first time. In 2001 the nation's first organic sugar mill, the Procesadora de Caña Orgánica Cruz Verde of Yabacao, Monte Plata began operations. A RD$50 million investment, this project has the support Frederich Naumann Stiftung, a German non-governmental organization and the European Union.
The DR also continues to be strong in the export of organic bananas and organic chocolate, competing for the world leadership position in these products. The country is now marketing organic coffee.
Cattle is raised for local consumption with beef exports primarily to the US.
The country has commercial deposits of gold, silver, ferronickel, construction materials, copper, marble, salt and gypsum. Falconbridge Dominicana is the country's largest mining firm, exploiting ferronickel from nickel laterite deposits in the central Bonao area. The companies foresees continuing mining operations well into the year 2001.
The Canadian company, Placer Dome won the tender for the development of a project to extract gold and silver from sulfide ore in the Cotuí area Pueblo Viejo mine, one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Proven sulfide ore reserves are estimated at more than 100 million tons, which would generate an estimated US$2 billion during the well over 30 years life span of the mine.
Placer Dome is North Americas third largest gold mining company and the worlds fifth largest gold miner.
Placer Dome needs yet to carry out a feasibility study to determine where the residual wastes of the process will be deposited to have the least impact on the environment. Following this study, the final contract with the company would be sent to Congress for approval.
Placer Dome proposes is to use traditional technology combined with bioleaching to extend the life of the mine another 30 years. An investment of US$336 million would be made. The concession is for 25 years. Reportedly, 403,000 ounces of gold and 2.2 million ounces of silver would be produced. Production would start 36 months after the signing of the contract.
Foreign investment in mining sector is increasing. Foreign companies have committed to invest RD$391.5 million in mining projects this year. The Department of Mining and the Corporate Mining Unit are hard at work to reactivate mining in the DR attracting foreign investment.
Grupo Carmelo S.A. has been given a concession to exploit a limestone deposit in the East, an investment of RD$183.2 million.
Mining industrial parks. The current administration of the Dominican Republic, has taken the initiative to attempt to begin and sustain the development of all types of industrial mining within the country. In order to accelerate mining growth in the country, the UCM (Dominican Republic Department of Mines) has proposed to increase opportunities within the mining sector via the use and development of mining industrial parks. Mining industrial parks will be located close to the sources of significant mineral/mining deposits, and will be developed within a free zone concept. This model is being undertaken in an effort to attract world market industrial mineral companies to the Dominican Republic to increase employment in the industrial park's respective regions and commercial exports for the country.
Newmont Mining Corporation won the tender to explore the reserve known as Ampliacion
Pueblo Viejo in Cotui. This is an investment of RD$83.2 million.
Mali Mining Company won the contract for the exploration of the Neita reserve in Restauracion.
This calls for an investment of RD$24 million.
The country is believed to have commercial deposits of oil and the government has already granted several concessions for exploration and exploitation. Explorations are presently underway in Azua, Bonao and Salcedo, where the government has granted concessions to private companies.
Semi-precious stones such as amber and blue-colored larimar are mined to be converted into jewelry for sale primarily to visiting tourists.
Mining industrial parks are being planned and approved in the following mineral deposit areas:
1) Barahona - Salt, Gypsum, Silica, Calcium Carbonate, Larimar, Travertine, Limestone and other decorative aggregates.
2) Cabo San Rafael, La Altagracia - Coral Limestone, Marble, and Arcillas
3) Pedernales- Bauxite, Calcium Carbonate, Limestone, and Dolomite.
4) Puerto Plata - Amber, Flagstone, Marble and other decorative aggregates.
5) Dajabon - Granite, Silica, Marble, and Limestone.