Alpart to suspend operations for two years

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Operations at the Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart alumina refinery in Nain, St Elizabeth, are set to be suspended for up to two years to facilitate the plant’s modernization and expansion.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (September 10), Transport and Mining Minster, Robert Montague, said the Ministry’s technical team recommended several options to JISCO relating to operations, during the modernization discussions.


He noted, however, that after careful consideration, the company decided that the best option at this time is to suspend alumina production and focus attention on a full-scale modernization and expansion programme.


Mr. Montague explained that the decision was arrived at after the consideration of various factors.


These, he said, include worker safety and welfare, the high cost of production and high levels of waste, noting that “to continue producing alumina at over US$480 per tonne is unviable”.


Other factors include the prevailing low and falling price of alumina on the world market, difficulties sourcing parts for old equipment, and discontinuation of the manufacturing of many of the parts and systems used by Alpart.


Mr. Montague said JISCO has indicated that this phase of Alpart’s development is slated to commence within the next 50 days.
“I wish to remind this House and the people of Jamaica that the modernisation and expansion programme will be one of the largest investments in the history of the country. Total investment is projected at US$1.1 billion when completed,” he stated.


The Minister added that the planned upgrade will result in a significantly more efficient refinery and that its production capacity will be increased from 1.65 million tonnes to two million tonnes per year.


LOWER PRODUCTION COST

“One of the principal objectives of the pending modernisation programme is to markedly lower the refinery’s production cost. This will increase its competitiveness, save jobs, reduce waste and generate income for the Government of Jamaica,” Mr. Montague said.


The Minister said the pending modernization and expansion of Alpart will build on work that commenced upon being acquired by JISCO.


“That initial phase of the modernization programme included the installation of some 10 megawatts (MW) of packaged power to augment the existing power plant, which has been a major source of the plant’s problems,” Mr. Montague said.


“Significant civil works, including the pouring of foundations for various buildings and systems, and direct improvements to the power plant have been completed,” he added.


Mr. Montague also told the Lower House that equipment and machinery needed for the expansion are either on site, en route to Jamaica or on order.


JISCO acquired Alpart from United Company RUSAL (UC RUSAL) in 2016 for approximately US$299 million.


By December 2017 the refinery had shipped its first cargo of alumina under JISCO’s ownership.


Initial rehabilitation and upgrades over the years by JISCO are valued at approximately US$300 million.

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