Though 2018 was a difficult year for the alumina and aluminium sector, the market for both continues to improve thanks to a steady rise in demand. Such was the message delivered by Jamaican opposition spokesman Phillip Paulwell to the country’s legislature last week.
This being the case, Paulwell asked why the government has not done more to maximize its gains via the bauxite levy.
“We are adamant that this diminishing resource must be managed in the best interest of the Jamaican people,” said Paulwell.
He also noted the positive developments at Alumina Partners of Jamaica’s (Alpart) plant, which is now being operated by Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO).
“I’m pleased to see renewed life and energy in the towns surrounding the plant. I’m glad with the growing levels of employment and the many corporate contributions to the community. I’m happy for the sharing of technology and training of Jamaicans at Chinese universities. JISCO is indeed making a difference in the Jamaican economy; we are pleased that JISCO has honoured its commitments and I wish them well. We are looking forward to the expansion of the refinery and the installation of new energy system.”
Additionally, thanks to the ending of United States sanctions upon Windalco’s parent company U.C. Rusal, Paulwell indicated that modernization of the plant can now go forward, with the prospect of the site becoming a base location now in the cards.
However, concerning is the financial position of Clarendon Alumina Production (CAP), which Paulwell chalks up to the rising cost of production at Jamalco. With marginal profits shrinking to a loss last year, he wonders whether majority partner Noble Group’s struggles may be the catalyst for CAP’s financial woes. Noble reported a net loss of almost US$5 billion in 2017, sending it into bankruptcy court last fall.
“I urge proactivity, for the Government of Jamaica to assume greater responsibility to bring those costs down and to make CAP a profitable venture,” he counseled legislators.