KINGSTON, September 10, 2019 - Mining Minister Robert Montague says the JISCO/Alpart plant in Nain, St. Elizabeth is to be shut down halting alumina production and to focus on refurbishing and modernising the plant.
In making the announcement in the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, Minister Montague said the the current plant is very energy intensive and old.
Mr. Montague said the modernisation project would begin in the next 50 days and would result in the increased competitiveness of the plant, "save jobs, reduce waste and generate income for the government and people of Jamaica."
He said the technical team in his ministry made several recommendations to JISCO but the company decided a shut down at this time would be best because of issues such as worker safety and welfare, the high cost of production and high levels of waste, among other things.
JISCO/Alpart which recently laid off scores of workers, said the lay offs should last three to six months and were mainly due to the reduction in the world market prices for alumina.
Mr. Montague acknowledged that the closure of JISCO will negatively affect the government's growth projection.
"I can tell you that mining accounts for 50 per cent of the growth figures; it is the third largest foreign exchange earner and it employs some 5,000 directly in high paying jobs and indirectly some 25,000 Jamaicans depend upon it," he highlighted.
Mr. Montague said talks with the unions are continuing and the Labour Ministry has so far worked out an agreement to ensure stability for the next two years. He said some staff would be asked to stay on during the modernisation project.
The JISCO/Alpart plant restarted operations a little more than two years ago after being closed for nine years.
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