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Bauxite industry undergoing longest crisis - Jamalco executive

Published:Thursday | November 21, 2013 | 6:38 PM

Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer



An executive of one of Jamaica’s major bauxite and alumina companies, Jamalco, says the industry is undergoing its longest crisis in recent memory with not much signs of an immediate reverse.




Acting manager of Jamalco Leo Lambert says the crisis is now entering its sixth year.



He says the situation has been made worse because metal prices are today half of what it fetched six years ago and raw material such as fuel oil and other costs are going up.



Lambert says energy accounts for 50 per cent of the cost a tonne of alumina.



As a consequence, Lambert says other Alcoa plants have to be subsidising Jamalco.



According to Lambert, the price of metal on the London Metal Exchange has fallen to its lowest ever, losing fifteen per cent of its value this year alone.



Lambert has told Clarendon business leaders that Jamalco has been engaging in a very rigorous exercise to contain costs and operate more efficiently.



However, he said even with the changes, Jamalco still racks up one of the highest production costs in the entire Alcoa system.



Alcoa, an American company is a partnership with the Jamaican Government through Clarendon Alumina Partners who operate the Halse Hall-based Jamalco.



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