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State Minister in the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications, Laurence Broderick, has informed that at least two companies are seeking to expand their operations in light of increased usage of alumina in manufacturing and other activities globally.
The companies, West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco), and Alumina Partners of Jamaica (ALPART), are currently conducting the necessary studies to guide possible expansion, he informed.
Mr. Broderick was making his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House on July 9.
“In light of a global move towards reducing the weight of automobiles, to meet the more stringent mileage requirements in various jurisdictions, aluminium use has spiked. Aluminium is the second most used material behind steel in the automobile industry.(and) continues to make inroads in other applications, notably building construction and power transmission lines,” he said.
“The evidence therefore, suggests that global demand for alumina will remain relatively strong, in spite of expected downturns in some of the major economies,” the State Minister explained.
To this end, Mr. Broderick said the local companies are seeking to expand their operations, adding that Windalco’s and ALPART’s efforts should get off the ground, “once the energy issue is resolved.”
On another matter, he cited the need for a review of the tripartite bauxite and alumina sector Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
He pointed out that there were numerous challenges which the sector faced, particularly over the past year, and there is a need to sustain stability and productivity in the industry.
The MoU is an agreement signed in 1998 between the bauxite and alumina companies, trade unions representing workers, and the Government.
The State Minister said that the primary aims of the review must be the fine-tuning of the objectives and mechanisms and, most importantly, responding to local and global developments occurring over the past decade.
“Failure to do so could have negative consequences on the sector’s competitiveness, especially in light of the escalating production costs,” the State Minister warned.
Mr. Broderick noted that the productivity incentive scheme, which, among other things, incorporates high level worker participation in operational decisions impacting productivity, “remains in place at all companies.”
“By encouraging active worker participation, these schemes have served to lift the morale, generate efficiencies and cost savings, and enhance output and promote all round productivity,” he informed.