JIS News

The Government is pursuing talks with overseas stakeholders, in a bid to determine the fate of the three bauxite plants whose operations have been scaled down.
Activities at the plants – West Indies Alumina Company’s (WINDALCO) operations in Ewarton, St. Catherine and Kirkvine, Manchester, and Alumina Partners (ALPART) in Nain, St. Elizabeth – were scaled down earlier this year by the operators, due to the reduction in the international demand for alumina.
WINDALCO is owned and operated by the Russian alumina company, AC Rusal, which also holds a 65 percent stake in ALPART, with the other 35 percent being held by Norwegian alumina enterprise, Hydro.
Addressing Wednesday’s (May 13) Post Cabinet media briefing, at Jamaica House, Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding said that Jamaica’s Ambassador to Moscow Joy Wheeler, met with the Russian Vice Minister with responsibility for the bauxite/alumina sector, regarding AC Rusal and WINDALCO. She submitted a report on preliminary developments to Mr. Golding on Monday.
No details on the preliminary efforts were divulged during Wednesday’s briefing, but Mr. Golding advised that the talks were ongoing.
The Prime Minister said that he spoke with the President of Hydro Eivind Reiten, two weeks ago regarding ALPART’s future. Reiten is scheduled to visit Jamaica next month to see whether Hydro can offer any brighter prospects for ALPART.
Apart from the fall in alumina demand, the Government is addressing developments with AC Rusal, which holds an overall 55 percent stake in the local bauxite industry, which the Prime Minister confirmed is in “deep, deep” trouble.
“There is a US$7.5 billion loan for which they were negotiating (for) some restructuring, and the information that I have is that, if that is not concluded this week, it could have serious implications for the future of the company. That concerns me,” Mr. Golding outlined.
Approximately 1,400 employees of WINDALCO and about 700 from ALPART have been affected by the scaled down operations at the three plants.
In the case of WINDALCO, Mr. Golding said the Government was still waiting on a determination from Rusal.
“There are certain legal obligations that they have to the workers, (but) the time has not yet elapsed (for them to be met),” he said.

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