A high level delegation from Russia is expected to visit Jamaica next month, to discuss matters concerning the operations of aluminum firm, UC Rusal, in Jamaica.
This was disclosed by Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell on July 24 during his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.
“I will be approaching these discussions with a clear mandate to act decisively in bringing resolution to all outstanding issues,” he assured.
The visit is as a result of uncertainty as to whether UC Rusal would be closing the West Indies Alumina Company’s (WINDALCO) Ewarton plantin St. Catherine.
In a statement to Parliament on July 9, Minister Paulwell said he had been verbally informed that UC Rusal had taken the decision to close the Ewarton plant this year, despite the full bauxite levy relief that was granted.
He said that in light of significant downturn in the market for bauxite and alumina, consequent on the challenges being experienced in the global economy, the Eurozone crisis and the volatility in oil prices, UC Rusal requested of the Government, full bauxite levy relief, in respect of WINDALCO’s Ewarton plant.
“The Cabinet, given the particular issues being experienced by the company, consented to a full waiver of the production levy, subject to conditions, for the Ewarton plant for one year commencing on June 1, 2012 pursuant to section 6 of the Bauxite (Productions Levy) Act.
“The main conditions included the commitment from UC Rusal to implement certain short-term projects, aimed at improving the capacity, efficiency and notably, the environmental management of the Ewarton plant about which the regulatory agencies of the government have been concerned for some time. That agreement was never executed by UC Rusal,” he had informed the House.
“I am further informed that the closure of the Ewarton refinery will be for a year, though written confirmation from UC Rusal has yet to be received,” he said at the time.
He pointed out that should UC Rusal close the Ewarton plant, it would mean that all three Rusal alumina refineries will be non‐operational, with Kirkvine and Alpart having been out of operation since 2009.
WINDALCO is owned by UC Rusal, which is based in Russia, and is the world’s largest producer of aluminium and alumina.