Mr. Speaker I am pleased to announce the planned restart of operations of UC Rusal’s Windalco-Kirkvine Works Plant in Manchester beginning July 1 this year. This follows the restart of operations at WINDALCO’s Ewarton plant in St. Catherine last July bringing on board over a thousand jobs.
Mr Speaker the very hard and focused work of the Ministry of Energy and Mining, the Jamaica Bauxite Institute and UC Rusal continue to pay off.
Mr. Speaker you would recall that operations at the Windalco-Kirkvine Works Plant were temporarily suspended in April 2009 due to cost-cutting measures linked to the broader global economic crisis then. You would also recall the generally devastating effect of the global economic crisis on the Bauxite and alumina sector worldwide.
Mr. Speaker, during the period in which operations were suspended, RUSAL undertook measures to ensure that when market conditions became favourable and that the Kirkvine plant would come back online with increased efficiencies and competitiveness. This included the optimising of the facility’s structure, production processes, reducing cash operating costs and making more efficient Plant operations.
Mr. Speaker, the planned restart of the Kirkvine Works Plant will see a massive investment not yet quantified by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) and Jamaica Bauxite Mining (JBM). A total of one thousand jobs many of them medium and high end will come on stream in the areas of engineering, mining, hauling, management and so on. The multiplier effect to the people of Manchester and surrounding parishes is even more significant.
Mr. Speaker, it is noteworthy to point out that the total capacity of Kirkvine is around 600 thousand tonnes of alumina per year whilst the production of the Kirkvine Works Plant for 2011 is planned to be approximately 252 thousand tonnes per year.
Mr. Speaker I must however sound words of caution. The planned restart of operations at Kirkvine is subject to approval by international lenders, further discussions by UC Rusal with its partners on the project and extensive Government of Jamaica support.
Mr. Speaker among the areas that the Government of Jamaica must address are:
1. Possible temporary lifting of the bauxite levy for WINDALCO.
Section 6 of the Bauxite (Production Levy) Act state clearly that, “The Minister may, upon the application of any person liable for payment of any production levy, if he is satisfied that it is just and equitable so to do, waive, remit or refund such levy in whole or in part and any such waiver, remission or refund may be subject to such conditions as the Minister may see fit to impose: Provided that a notice of such waiver, remission or refund shall be published in the Gazette.
2. Resolving issues pertaining to the 18 million US dollars debt owed by Jamaica Bauxite Mining to WINDALCO as a result of old supply contracts
3. Rehabilitation of railroad tracks from Port Esquivel to Kirkvine
4. Resolving the sale of 7% of shares in WINDALCO owned by Jamaica Bauxite Mining along with old supply contracts with Glencore
5. Assistance in power projects for WINDALCO plants including lease of lands along railroad tracks for growing biofuel, R&D sharing, licenses, carbon credits and so on.
6. Collaboration with NEPA on Port Esquivel dredging environmental issues
7. Assistance in hiring local mining contractors for Kirkvine mines, and;
8. Cooperation in sending five Jamaican students annually to study at Russian Universities at RUSAL’s expense
Mr. Speaker we are committed to ensuring that the best interests of Jamaica is advanced at all times and will continue to work untiringly towards the full resuscitation of the bauxite and alumina sector.
I thank you.