JIS News

The St. Ann Bauxite Company, which purchased Kaiser Aluminum Corporation’s 49 per cent stake in Kaiser Jamaica Bauxite Company (KJBC) last year, has pledged to invest some US$7.7 million into its operations. The Government of Jamaica is the majority shareholder with 51 per cent of equity in the company.
General Manager of St. Ann Bauxite Limited, Michael Muirhead informed JIS News that the company was seeking to recruit additional persons and to add a fourth shift to its mining operations. Over 600 persons are currently working at the plant and there are plans to employ an additional 30 persons as well as convert some 20 temporary workers to permanent positions.
“We are looking for much more next year as we look forward to upgrade our equipment, to expand mining operations,” he said. Mr. Muirhead further noted that there was great potential for the future of the St. Ann Bauxite Company. “I think we have new owners now who are committed to us long term and they are not just committed by saying it but they are committed by investing capital – capital investment several times more than past years combined,” he pointed out.
The General Manager said he was very optimistic about the future of the company and that the expansion of the company’s workforce was a “testimony in itself of the new company’s commitment to the bauxite industry here in Jamaica.”
Mr. Muirhead made reference to the fact that for the past five years the former owners had been in chapter 11 and therefore there was no stream of capital coming to the company.
“This year we have invested US$7.735 million and we look forward to upgrading our equipment and expanding our mining volume. Also we intend to be here a long time,” he said.
Mr. Muirhead said popular belief that bauxite companies did not care about the environment was not factual. “It is not true that the bauxite company does not have an interest in the environment. The focus that we have put on it and the resources we have dedicated and intend to dedicate speak otherwise to anyone who speaks that we are not sensitive to the environment,” he said.
He added that it is the company’s intention to continue that effort and make it even more aggressive. “We realize that we have a wide variety of stakeholders and one of them is the community and we intend to be the best corporate citizens in that area. That is our commitment and we think we are on the right track,” he said.
The company is also gearing up to benefit from the growth in the international demand for alumina and the role China is playing in the international metals market.
“We expect shared benefits. We believe China has and continue to impact the entire world with this demand for various metals and not just metal. We intend to ride on the success of China and we intend to compete effectively in that market,” he noted.
Meanwhile President of the St. Ann Bauxite Company, Parviz Farsangi says strategic plans were being developed and would be implemented during the next five months. “When you look at capital this year, in one year we have spent more capital than in the last five years together, so they are thinking long term, we are thinking long-term and our plan is to be competitive,” he said.
He noted that there was quite a bit more capital to be invested. “Our owners are committed to viable operation. They are going to give us an opportunity to be here long term but it depends on what we make out of it,” Mr. Farsangi said.
He informed that one goal of the company was to get the employees involved and as such the company was committed to working with unions representing employees. “We will work with them but it is a two way street. I like what I see so far.we have to look at where we want to go and look at things the right way,” he said.

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