Thu | Mar 30, 2017

Alpart reopens

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2015 | 3:00 AM

BAUXITE MINING has resumed at Alpart in Nain, south east St Elizabeth.

Extraction of bauxite began on March 23, and haulage of bauxite from the plant to the port will commence by the end of April.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, speaking in the Budget Debate in Parliament on Tuesday, said the company has already employed 40 people and has committed to hiring an additional 70 persons by the end of this month. She also said the company is on track to hire 250 people in total for the duration of the project.

UC RUSAL has secured all the required permits for its operations.

The Alpart plant was closed for the last five years, because of low market price and high production costs in 2009.

However, following threats by the Government that it would revoke the mining licences of UC Rusal if it did not commence mining activities by the end of 2014, the company announced that work would begin at Alpart on January 1.

Alpart is to mine and export up to two million crude wet tonnes of monohydrate bauxite over an 18-month period, and export is to become effective in July 2015.

Phillip Paulwell, the mining minister, said UC Rusal started in January with preparatory works.

"For you to mine, you have to prepare the land, you have to prepare the roads, you have to have the permits in place, and all of those things were happening. Nobody thought that, on January 1, they would have started to dig the ground for bauxite," he told The Gleaner.

UC Rusal is to put in an energy solution to help reduce the cost of processing bauxite. Paulwell said that, already, the company has invested somewhere in the region of US$2.5 to US$3 million as part of the reopening. He said, too, that the company appears to be on track to meet the timeline for resumption of processing activities.

"The agreement we have with them is that the refinery is to be reopened in December 2016 when the energy system goes in and the refurbishment takes place. All of these activities are proceeding in anticipation of the formal reopening of refinery," the minister said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com