US Sanctions Against UC RUSAL Spur Government Safeguards for Jamaica

Photo: Donald De La Haye Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Robert Montague (standing), updating Members of the House of Representatives on safeguards being pursued by the Government to protect Jamaica’s interests in light of United States-imposed sanctions against Russian aluminium company, UC Rusal, during Tuesday’s (April 24) sitting at Gordon House. Seated (from left) are Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon, Olivia Grange; and Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte.

Story Highlights

  • The Government has initiated safeguards to protect Jamaica’s interests in light United States (US)-imposed sanctions on Russian aluminium company, UC RUSAL, which operates West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco) in St. Catherine.
  • These interventions include a meeting between Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, and the company’s Country Manager to communicate the Administration’s position and ascertain UC RUSAL’s plans for Windalco.
  • “The Government’s position is primarily concerned with: protection of the workers and contractors, protection of the environment and protection of the economy,” Mr. Montague said during Tuesday’s (April 24) sitting of the House of Representatives.

The Government has initiated safeguards to protect Jamaica’s interests in light United States (US)-imposed sanctions on Russian aluminium company, UC RUSAL, which operates West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco) in St. Catherine.

These interventions include a meeting between Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, and the company’s Country Manager to communicate the Administration’s position and ascertain UC RUSAL’s plans for Windalco.

“The Government’s position is primarily concerned with: protection of the workers and contractors, protection of the environment and protection of the economy,” Mr. Montague said during Tuesday’s (April 24) sitting of the House of Representatives.

The Minister indicated that he also met with representatives of the US Embassy in Kingston, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and unions representing Windalco’s workers.

“I (also) briefed Cabinet via a note on April 23, and earlier today (April 24) I met with the Opposition Spokesman on Mining, Mr. Phillip Paulwell,” he continued.

Mr. Montague advised that the Ministry is contemplating additional contingencies, including lobbying the US to revise the sanctions, thereby preventing the Jamaican economy from being negatively impacted; and facilitating the introduction of local ownership, including implementing an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP).

“This could allow the workers and/or local investors to assume controlling interest in the business and, thereby, avert the sanctions’ negative impacts,” he said.

Government assumption of full control or majority controlling interest in Windalco in the national interest is also being contemplated, as a last resort.

Mr. Montague assured that the situation is being fully monitored and developments are being and will be analysed as they unfold.

Meanwhile, Mr. Paulwell has committed to working with the Government to ensure the crisis is properly managed.

 

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