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Despite recession, Jamalco hits record

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

George Henry, Gleaner Writer

MAY PEN, Clarendon:

Fighting off the debilitating effects of the worldwide global recession, local alumina plant Jamalco has posted the highest rate of improvement among refineries in Alcoa's Global Primary Products (GPP) system for 2009.

Executive vice-president and president of Alcoa's GPP Business Unit, Bernt Reitan, made the announcement as he led a high-level team of Alcoa executives on a visit to the Clarendon-based bauxite/alumina facility this week.

Reitan said that while other Alcoa refineries had shown improvement, he was particularly impressed with Jamalco, given the position of the company at the end of 2008.

"All the parameters have shown a lot of progress and the plant is very clean," he told members of Jamalco's executive management team.

Terrific performance

In commending Jamalco em-ployees and management for successfully weathering the challenges of 2009, Reitan said he was impressed with the alignment of the process and business systems across Jamalco's operation. He said the local company has refined its strategies and has taken the company to the next level.

"Terrific! Dynamite!" he exclaimed.

Jamalco, whose parent company is headquartered in Pennsylvania, United States, ended 2009 with its best ever annual production, some 100,000 metric tons above the previous 2006 record of 1.3 million metric tons. This placed it fourth on the cost curve among the nine Alcoa refineries.

The plant's success comes against the background of the recession which forced the closure of three plants by the other two major bauxite companies in less than a year. West Indies Alumina Company announced February last year that it would shut down its plants in Ewarton, St Catherine, and Kirkvine, Manchester. Soon after, Aluminium Partners of Jamaica shut down its plant in St Elizabeth.

Alcoa's GPP vice-president admitted the major challenge facing Jamalco now was the need to find an alternative energy source to replace oil and this needs to be urgently addressed.

The executive vice-president was accompanied on his visit by GPP Chief Operating Officer John Thuestad and Alcoa's president for Latin America and the Caribbean region, Franklin Feder. The party visited Jamalco's mine operations in Manchester and Clarendon, the port at Rocky Point, as well as the residue storage area and alumina refinery. They met with Jamalco's team members and saw first hand the deployment of the business systems which undergird the company's operations.