JIS News

Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson, has assured that the Government and the owners of the St. Elizabeth-based bauxite alumina company Alpart, have been working together to ensure that a 2011 reopening of that operation is possible.
“The partners in Alpart have shown true interest in this asset, and their desire to get the plant reopened. They have accepted that the government has done what it can do in terms of putting in place measures to help the restart. We are now waiting on the world market to rebound a little bit more. I am positive in my outlook, and a shared vision that this plant could possible be up next year. We share that hope,” the Minister said while addressing officials of the bauxite company at its Nain’s plant in St. Elizabeth on April 23.
He added that a big part of the company’s challenge was expensive fuel, and that the soon to be established Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project will assist in sustaining its operations.
“In meeting with the owners of Alpart over the last two weeks, and indicating where are we with our LNG, and the diversification exercise, they accepted and understood that once the world market was in a place where they could restart in a sustainable manner, they would do that while waiting and working together to use LNG to run their plant which would make it sustainable,” Minister Robertson told his audience.
Meanwhile, General Manager of Alpart, Mr. Timothy O’Driscoll, told the meeting that the workers have ensured that the plant can restart at any time, and that the company’s community outreach has continued despite its temporary closure.
He explained that the dust nuisance that affected a number of communities near the plant in March, happened while modifications were being done to the dust control system, but that since then there has not been a reoccurrence.
“We have seen the professionalism, the dedication and the commitment from the entire Alpart team. We have kept ourselves ready, we worked on a restart model almost the same day that we stopped production, and we continue to work at it to make sure that when we restart, and if there is another downturn in the world’s economy, we can continue operation. The communities have been very cooperative, and the relationship has gone from strength to strength. We have managed to maintain the water supply to our neighbouring and faraway communities,” Mr. O’Driscoll said.
Minister Robertson, accompanied by personnel from his Ministry, the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and Member of Parliament for South East St. Elizabeth, Mr. Frank Witter, toured the plant, and its dust control facility, to get a first hand look at measures that the company has in place to protect nearby residents. The Minister will be touring other bauxite companies to ensure that their operations are consistent with the protection of the environment, and the citizenry.