Written by Jamaica Observer Posted On: Monday, 03 April 2017
More than 500 jobs have been added to the workforce at Alpart/JISCO Alumina Refinery in Nain, St Elizabeth, and the number is expected to climb to over 700 by the time the plant reopens on June 20, according to the Ministry of Mining and Transport.A news release from the ministry on the weekend said that once the plant becomes fully operational, JISCO “could be spending approximately $171 million monthly on salaries”. Last November Chinese firm Jiuquan Iron and Steel (JISCO) bought Russian company Rusal’s stake in Alpart for US$299 million.
The refinery had been mothballed since early 2009 in the aftermath of a global financial meltdown, with a nosedive in metal prices even as energy costs stayed high at that time.
Last Thursday, Mining Minister Lester “Mike” Henry visited the plant to get a first-hand view of the preparatory activities for the reopening, which, the ministry said, is “creating a buzz in the once sleepy rural township and its surroundings”. Henry’s visit, the ministry said, was to ensure that all the critical and necessary activities to make the deadline a reality are met.
He greeted several workers on the job and encouraged them to do all they can in order make the deadline.
He said given JISCO’s large investment and plans to develop the agricultural sector in St Elizabeth, once the bread basket of Jamaica, he was leaving nothing to chance and no stones unturned until the refinery is fully operational.
Henry said he was fully satisfied with the progress made so far and encouraged JISCO to ensure that Alpart’s enviable safety record is kept intact, while they engage the communities to build a solid relationship, even as they correct legacy issues they have inherited.
Turning to the employment ratio of Jamaicans to Chinese, Henry said that the majority of the 267 JISCO workers are here temporarily to work alongside the Jamaicans in the preparatory stages and after the start-up of the plant most of them will return to China.
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