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Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says he is confident that the Alpart bauxite and alumina plant at Nain, in St Elizabeth, will re-open soon, as discussions with U C Rusal, the majority share- holders and operators of the plant, are going well.

Addressing a Rural Electrification Programme (REP) lighting ceremony, in Powell Town, Southfield, St. Elizabeth, on November 28, the Minister said the latest round of discussions with representatives of U C Rusal took place on November 27, and that another is scheduled for the near future.

"We have to get Alpart re-opened, we have to get our bauxite/alumina back to where it was, and we have to get employment going. I have said to the representatives of UC Rusal, what you have there is precious to us, you have good reserves, and we cannot afford to keep the place locked down," he said.

The parish of St. Elizabeth has been affected economically, since the closure of the processing plant in 2009.

Mr. Paulwell emphasised that before the end of this year, a date and schedule for the re-opening of the plant must be established.

“I have said to them (U C Rusal) that before this year is out, we are going to have to come and tell the people of St. Elizabeth the date and schedule for the re-opening. The good news is that they continue to maintain the plant, even though it is closed,” he pointed out.

The Minister said that energy generation is playing an important role in the re-opening of the plant, and that as soon as a solution is found to the energy issue, and that is expected by the end of December, then there will be a move to have the plant re-opened for business, which should lead to the generation of employment in the area.

Mr. Paulwell added that the discussions also include a programme to make the mined out lands in the parish and other parishes available to persons who want to do farming, with some of the lands to be used as water catchments to support the farming projects.

"By the end of January (2013), we intend to start the allocation of those mined out lands to farmers, who will have to take farming to a higher level,” he stated, adding that more scientific methods of farming might have to be adopted.