An ongoing equipment failure at Alumina Partners of Jamaica has led to a week-long production stoppage at the plant, and concern is mounting that the financial losses to the plant in the interim may be substantial.
Domestic media reports that the plant’s boiler system failed late last month, and the earliest possible restart date is likely to be later this week. Though no official word has emerged from the plant’s ownership at Jiquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO), local experts fear the production shut-down could cost the operation up to US$15 million.
While the equipment problem by itself is cause for concern, the continuing labor uncertainty at the plant has established a backdrop of trouble before which the boiler system’s failure is playing out. Minister Mike Henry of Jamaica’s parliament tells local media that the accumulation of problems at the site does not bode well for its future.
“I have great concern that the major investment projects may be affected, if these issues continue to affect production at the plant,” he opined.
Henry continued by saying that such problems have begun to put into question the creation of a US$3-billion Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone on the island as well as JISCO’s plans to employ up to 1,800 Jamaicans on the site.
“All of this is what Jamaica should be accommodating, not seeking to create issues that would question or reverse the investment. JISCO Alpart is to become an industrial park, and any kind of labour issue that begins to threaten it, can threaten the investment and the development as well, and even more importantly the country’s growth target.”
Henry said that the state of the equipment at the site, which had been idle for nine years prior to JISCO’s purchase of the site, will likely remain a stumbling block until the company has addressed the wear and tear accumulated while the plant sat empty.