Jamaica government optimistic about future of bauxite industry

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 2, CMC – A senior government minister says the future of Jamaica’s bauxite and alumina sector remains bright and prosperous, with great prospects for further investments.
Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, told delegates to the 24th Bauxite Alumina Conference that the industry’s prospects are increasingly becoming more favourable as aluminium and alumina benchmark prices have risen and are set to continue climbing as global demand strengthens.
“Energy cost has also been trending low, well below the 2008 (pre-crisis) levels, and is looking to remain moderate into the future,” he added.
He said that Jamaica’s ongoing economic reform programme has also brought about a stable macro-environment, and, consequently, the critical variables, namely debt ratio, inflation and foreign exchange reserves, “are now heading in the right direction”.
Wheatley said that Jamaica’s history in the sector, which has given rise to skilled workers who are familiar with industry activities, as well as communities and supporting government agencies.
He said industry developments have, thus far, been so fruitful that the new owners of the Alpart refinery in Nain. St. Elizabeth, Jiuquan Iron & Steel (Group) Company Limited (JISCO) of China, have undertaken a projected six billion US dollars investment programme.
He said this initiative will involve the expansion of the existing plant, the building of a new refinery to boost Alpart’s capacity to four million tonnes, expansion of facilities at Port Kaiser, construction of an Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone, and the possible use of natural gas as an energy source.
Chief Executive of Noranda Bauxite and Alumina, David D’Addario said his company continues to expand its markets and has opened up trade with new bauxite customers worldwide, including China and India.
D’Addario said that aluminium has even been sold for use in non-metallurgical applications where Jamaican bauxite has never been used before.
He said Noranda has utmost trust and confidence in the government and that this, along with its strategic customers and financial commodities partners, was among the factors contributing to the company’s productivity.
Additionally, he said the entity and government have developed a non-adversarial relationship that heralded a new paradigm in Jamaica’s bauxite industry where both parties “rise together in good times”, and the country “shares handsomely in the profits when business is good but is still guaranteed a levy when business is not too good”.
“We find good people, good partners, people with good morals and a solid work ethic, both as employees and partners. We look for people we can trust – it is a big thing for me – and then we partner with them.
“We found comfort and trust in those in the leadership of the Government of Jamaica, and we have developed a long-term relationship with the Administration. I am very proud of that,” Mr. D’Addario added.

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