Today, Prime Minister Andrew Holness issued a press release, taking note of ongoing concerns among Jamaicans regarding the possible construction of a coal-fired power plant at Alpart in Nain, St. Elizabeth. He did not mention the word “coal” in his release, as you can see below. However, I am very glad that he is engaged with the issue. I look forward to hearing which “stakeholders” he will be consulting with, apart from the government agencies mentioned. I hope this will include civil society, environmental professionals – and importantly, the citizens themselves, especially in the surrounding area. I also hope that the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) will, indeed be able to properly monitor the operations of the proposed industrial park. The environmental damage caused by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) while building the North-South Highway – activities that were apparently not properly monitored – and current protests by the residents affected are not very encouraging. And if I may, Prime Minister: mining is not, and never will be, a sustainable activity. (Please note I took the liberty of correcting two errors in this press release: the name of the Chinese company, and the Advisory Committee).
August 11, 2016
The Office of the Prime Minister
UPDATE ON THE SALE OF ALPART TO JISCO
On July 19, 2016, mining conglomerate UC Rusal finalized a private commercial transaction with China’s Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO) for the sale of ALPART, one of Jamaica’s largest bauxite plants, whose operations have been significantly scaled down since 2009.
This transaction holds great potential for the development, revival and expansion of the mining sector, and other related value-added industries including aluminum, limestone and cement.
Discussions with JISCO have been ongoing and transcend political administrations. Investments of this nature must be done in full consultation with the Government in order to ensure structured implementation on a sustainable basis.
Given the recent conclusion of the sale transaction which established new ownership, and the expected visit of the principals of JISCO in September 2016, the Government is preparing to receive and consider the definitive plans regarding the development of ALPART. The Government is coordinating across all relevant Ministries and Agencies in preparation for these discussions.
The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica has arranged a series of consultative meetings and on August 8, 2016, one such meeting was held with representatives of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). Consultations are currently being arranged with the Climate Change Advisory Committee and other stakeholders.
Given the magnitude and nature of the proposed development, Prime Minister Holness has directed NEPA to ensure that it has the requisite expertise to effectively assess, monitor and advise the Government.
The Administration is closely following the public discourse surrounding the proposed developments and takes note of the concerns raised as well as the benefits anticipated by various interests and stakeholders. In this context the Government of Jamaica reaffirms its commitment to a transparent and rigorous process of balancing our economic growth aspirations, our environmental imperatives and our international obligations.