Bauxite on growth path, says Henry
Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry says Jamaica's bauxite and alumina industry is on a growth path, driven by the reopening of the Alpart plant in Nain, St Elizabeth, by Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) Limited.
The company has proposed to invest some US$3 billion over a three-year period in the upgrading of the 1.65-million-tonnes-per-annum plant, which opened in June.
This will expand production capacity to two million tonnes per annum by the end of 2020, the minister said.
He was addressing a press conference, held at the ministry's St Andrew offices on Tuesday to provide an update on projects under his portfolio.
Other aspects of the investment by JISCO include construction of a new US$500-million 230-megawatt (MW) liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant and a new aluminium foil/stainless steel plant; a new sheet plant; a new welding rod plant with other aluminium hydrate products.
The project also includes redevelopment and expansion of Port Kaiser to accommodate mega ships, housing and support infrastructure for workers/ investors as part of the special economic zones, and a greenhouse agricultural demonstration project to begin at the end of the second quarter of 2018.
NEW LNG POWER PLANT
Meanwhile, the mining minister informed that in another few weeks, ground will be broken for the construction of a new 120MW LNG power plant at the Jamalco refinery in Clarendon.
"This will improve efficiency, reduce operating costs and increase (the plant's) profitability," he said.
Henry argued that the growth and development expected to come from the proposed investments in the alumina industry offer a unique opportunity to radically transform the economy of the south-central section of the island and increase growth throughout the wider economy.
"The forthcoming investments in the wider minerals sector, including metallic mineral exploration and the industrial minerals industry, will generate some 2,300 new direct and full-time jobs after the construction phase. Additionally, over 22,000 new indirect jobs are to be created by the sector over the next three years. I am excited to see these come to fruition," he said.
Between 2014 and 2016, the mining and quarrying sector accounted for 50 per cent of the country's domestic export earnings, with the bauxite and alumina subsector responsible for 97 per cent of this amount.
This averaged approximately US$663 million for that period. Only tourism generated more foreign exchange earnings than this sector.