- With the expansion of two local bauxite production plants, Jamaica's bauxite sector is expected to see an increase in output this year.
- Aluminium Partners of Jamaica (ALPART) in St. Elizabeth and Jamalco in Clarendon have expanded their plants.
- Alpart's plant upgrading programme, projected at a cost of US$21 million, was officially approved in September last year. Of this cost, 25 per cent will be funded by Hydro Aluminium and 65 per cent by Kaiser Aluminium, the two parent companies overseas.
With the expansion of two local bauxite production plants, Jamaica’s bauxite sector is expected to see an increase in output this year.
Aluminium Partners of Jamaica (ALPART) in St. Elizabeth and Jamalco in Clarendon have expanded their plants.
Alpart’s plant upgrading programme, projected at a cost of US$21 million, was officially approved in September last year. Of this cost, 25 per cent will be funded by Hydro Aluminium and 65 per cent by Kaiser Aluminium, the two parent companies overseas.
This investment is part of a total package that will add approximately 200,000 tonnes to Alpart’s capacity, from 1.45 million tonnes per year to above 1.65 million tonnes by 2004.
Giving details of the upgrading, Lance Neita, Public Relations Manager at Alpart told JIS News that the expansion involved the building of a dual bauxite feed, construction of a new 50,000 tonnes silo at Port Kaiser and facilitating a precipitation cooling project.
The dual feed project, he said would provide Alpart with the capacity for processing both mono-hydrate and tri-hydrate bauxite. “That will make Alpart the only Aluminium plant in Jamaica with this facility, that is the ability to process all bauxite quality grades in Jamaica,” he said.
“It will help to improve and increase our production and it will also help us with managing the available bauxite reserves that are in Jamaica,” he explained. The project, he said is 55 per cent complete.
Giving details on the new silo at Port Kaiser, Mr. Neita said that it was already 95 per cent complete and should be ready during the third quarter of this year. The silo is a state-of-the-art facility designed to maintain a consistent distribution of alumina particle size in storage and shipment, thus increasing the ability to achieve customer satisfaction.
Turning to the precipitation-cooling project, Mr. Neita said that this initiative was designed to cool the liquor flow at the precipitation stage and improve the yield of alumina for the process flow.
“This project is also well under way and is about 55 per cent complete and those three projects (the bauxite dual feed project, the silo and the precipitation cooling projects) are the three major programmes that we are working on this year,” Mr. Neita said.
At Jamalco, the expansion project has so far resulted in increased employment for skilled and unskilled personnel around the operating locations. The company has established a registration office in the community and engaged an officer from the community to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the employment process.
Last year, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson signed a US$115 million expansion programme with Jamalco’s United States based parent company, Alcoa, to increase the capacity of the Jamalco refinery by 35 per cent, making it a 1.25 million tonne per year refinery.
The expansion also includes the introduction of new technologies that contribute to lowering raw material consumption and improving efficiencies to bring Jamalco in line with Alcoa’s other low cost facilities in the refinery system.
Speaking in the 2003/04 Budget Debate in Parliament on April 30, Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson said that the expansion would begin immediately and would be completed by the end of 2003.
Other features of the agreement include the full movement to an income tax system linked to the completion of the expansion; guaranteed tax payments, equivalent to the average levy receipts over the past five years for five calendar years from the expansion date.
The Prime Minister also said the agreement called for a substantial increase of the royalty per tonne of bauxite and provision for an additional royalty related to the quality of ore, and the efficiency of plant operations.
Mr. Patterson said that since the inception of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1998, the Government, the bauxite companies and the trade unions have been working to increase productivity, improve cost competitiveness and strengthen industrial relations.He added that output of alumina has reached record levels and some gains had been made in cost containment. Continuing, he said that the control of inflation and stability in the foreign exchange market, allows the industry to enjoy a vastly improved environment, both for the workers and the company.
The Prime Minister mentioned that fiscal incentives for productivity schemes involving workers and for modernisation and expansion, allowed the workforce to enjoy real increases in purchasing power, so contract periods could be lengthened, which has also set the stage for further investment and expansion.