Jamaica-Gansu SEZ stalled, says Henry


Jamaica-Gansu SEZ stalled, says Henry

Senior staff reporter

Monday, July 22, 2019

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MIKE Henry says that setbacks in the Jiquan Iron & Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart refinery programme have led to a refocusing of direction and resources and a delay in the start of the Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park (JGIP) in Nain, St Elizabeth.

The minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, who was contributing to the sectoral debate in the House of Representatives last week Tuesday, acknowledged that there had been a setback in terms of the ground-breaking for the JGIP project, which was originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2019. By that time, the initial programme of rehabilitation and upgrading of the existing power plant and refinery at Alpart were expected to have been completed.

He said that the expanded rehabilitation and upgrading programme was started in 2018, and stage one is now targeted for completion by the end of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. This will result in production moving from the current level of 800,000 tonnes of alumina per annum to a projected two million tonnes of alumina per year, providing critical raw material input for potential occupants of the industrial park.

Henry also noted that the unanticipated condition of the plant and the unreliable production to date, combined with a significant overall fall in alumina prices over the last two years — from a crisis high of US$700 per tonne to the current level of below US$400 per tonne — have impacted the timeline for the ground -breaking.

“The consequent refocusing of direction and resources have resulted in a reprogramming of many elements of the Alpart refinery programme, including the proposed new powerhouse and the proposed LNG (liquified natural gas) facility at Port Kaiser, which are critical to the development of the JGIP,” Henry said.

“As a consequence, the JGIP has also been rescheduled for after the completion and commissioning of the upgraded refinery and rehabilitated power plant,” he added.

The minister also noted that a new approach is being examined in order to facilitate LNG. The railway from the plant to the port is being upgraded, and the port will be refurbished to accommodate the increased level of alumina production, which is necessary to drive the anchor facilities in the industrial park.

The refurbished and expanded port facilities will support the materials coming in and products going out of the Industrial Park, as companies develop their operations within the proposed special economic zone.

Henry pointed out that in China, the vice-governor of Gansu province was replaced last year, which has resulted in a temporary hold on the administrative focus on the JGIP. However, he said that a new vice-governor has been appointed, and the Government expects that the administrative process will now resume.

He also noted that in March, 2019, the chairman of JISCO was reassigned to the Government structure of Gansu province, and a new JISCO chairman was appointed in April.

“This has also resulted in a hiatus of administrative decision-making until the new chairman has been fully briefed and engaged on all aspects of JISCO's operations in China and Jamaica,” Henry said.

The Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park project was started with a non-binding agreement in September 2017 in Jiayuguan, China, after the second Belt and Road forum. This was followed by a framework agreement between the governments of Gansu province and Jamaica.

The vision of the JGIP is of an expansive special economic zone, supported by the production of the Alpart refinery, supplying manufacturers with aluminium sheets and plates for manufacturing of end products such as aluminium foil, aluminium sidings and roofing sheets for buildings, and intermediary products such as extrusions for casings of refrigerators, washing machines and microwaves.

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