JIS News

Minister of Information and Development, Donald Buchanan, has said that 2006 was a record year for the bauxite/alumina sector with production growing by 5.3 per cent to 14.865 million tonnes.
This is the “highest level of output since 1974 when over 15 million tonnes of bauxite were produced,” Mr. Buchanan said during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (June 5).
He noted that during the same period, alumina output amounted to 4.1 million tonnes, which is the highest level ever achieved. “As a result, the alumina component of total bauxite production produced rose to 69 per cent compared with only 47 per cent in the record 1974 year. This means that the local value-added content of the industry is now at its highest level,” Mr. Buchanan said.
The Minister also pointed to a significance growth in crude bauxite exported, resulting in an increase of more than 17 per cent in gross earnings from the sector for the calendar year. The figure, he said, “exceeded the billion US dollar mark for the second successive year to reach US$1.19 billion, with the respective fiscal year figure being US$1.2 billion”.
“Of this amount, over 53 per cent or US$633.5 million, representing revenue accruing directly to the government from levy, taxes, royalties and the like, and expenditures undertaken by the companies for wages and salaries, and expenditure on works and local purchases was retained in the country as net earnings, an increase of 67.3 per cent,” Mr. Buchanan informed.
He said that this substantial increase in net earnings is accounted for by increased levy receipts linked to the higher prices for alumina metal, as well as significant increases in capital expenditure undertaken by Jamalco in raising its capacity from 1.26 million tonnes to over 1.40 million tonnes.
He also noted that St. Ann Bauxite Company, which has invested in haulage machinery to raise output from around four million tonnes to over five million tonnes of bauxite per annum, has also contributed to the substantial increases in net earnings.
According to Minister Buchanan, the excellent performance in the bauxite/alumina industry was partly due to the extremely favourable international market for commodities including aluminium and the associated bauxite and alumina production.
While citing China as the “main driver” in the global aluminium industry in terms of both production and consumption, he noted that “in Jamaica, there have been significant improvements in productivity that have contributed to the performance of the industry.”
These improvements, he said, “have been achieved through the investments made by the bauxite companies, the efforts of the unions and the workers and the greater co-operation between partners in the industry.”

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