China’s Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) announced last week plans to invest US$3 billion in constructing an alumina refinery and aluminium smelter adjacent to the Alpart alumina refinery in Nain, St. Elizabeth, a facility also operated by Jisco.
Per the Jamaican government, construction of the Gansu Industrial Park is expected to begin by year’s end. The site will add another 60,000 jobs to the area and is the keystone of the island’s Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI), which is an initiative led by the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA).
In a briefing last week on the subject, JSEZA’s chairman Metry Seaga elaborated upon the impact the new plant is expected to have on the area’s economy.
“I think it is important that we, as Jamaicans, understand the game changer that this is going to be. It is going to transform, not only St. Elizabeth, but all the towns around it. Most importantly, this has the backing of the Government of the People’s Republic of China. This is real and we are going to make it happen.”
He continued by saying that the entire site will be fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“(They) made it very clear that this is not going to be a concrete jungle… and that they are going to make sure that this is ecologically friendly… with lots of green space. So, that’s encouraging,” he concluded.
The project is seen by some as the island’s first foray into Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Though initially meant to connect nations along the former Silk Road, Belt and Road has expanded to cover several developing countries far afield of the original trail. Though not yet an official member of the initiative, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has previously gone on record as supporting his country’s participation in it.