The Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO)/Alpart bauxite company, located in Nain, St. Elizabeth, is giving back to the various communities in which it operates.
Public Relations Officer, Julian Keane, tells JIS News that the company supports more than 70 districts in St. Elizabeth and Manchester through education, sports, healthcare, agriculture, and general community development.
“We have our mining operations that go through various communities –our conveyor system that takes the bauxite to the refinery here (in Nain)… our rail line and our port, so that’s why we are heavily involved in community development,” Mr. Keane notes.
He says the company believes that it is important to give back, which is why it undertakes programmes that benefit the communities in which its operations are located.
“It [community development programme] is basically a continuation of what we did in the past… . Since JISCO/Alpart took over in (June 2017), we have continued with a number of community programmes, and we have expanded them,” he notes.
In highlighting the support, he informs that some 1,800 students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels benefited from over $13 million in scholarships for the new academic year in September.
The assistance was provided through the two community councils – Alpart Community Council (ACC), which serves St. Elizabeth; and the Manchester Plateau Community Council.
In addition to the back-to-school assistance, Mr. Keane says that the plant “continues to work with over 40 primary schools that are involved in our safety programmes. We have schools also participating in sporting activities and quiz competitions, and we also give assistance to farmers in our area”.
Mr. Keane says that opportunity is also provided for semi-skilled and unskilled persons to gain employment.
“Apart from the over 700 direct employees, we have approximately 500 persons from the communities, who are rotated through a programme [led by the] Essex Valley Community and Associates (EVCA) via the Alpart Community Council. What that does is, it provides employment for persons in the direct operating areas, and the profit that the community council gets from that is channeled back into community projects,” Mr. Keane explained.
Sewage plant operator at JISCO/Alpart, Monaire Maitland, who is a beneficiary of the programme, says “it is good working here”.
“You learn a lot of things… even plumbing, and other skills. By moving around with persons here with those skill sets, you learn a lot. I would love to [work] here for a lifetime. You can work here and make a life; (the company) is like a university,” he expresses.
Mr. Maitland also lauds the company’s work atmosphere, stating that “coworkers encourage you while you are working, and look out for each other.” Mr. Maitland also highlighted the company’s strict safety guidelines, which he says he finds admirable.
Small business personnel, who operate within the vicinity of the JISCO/Alpart head office in Nain also praise the company as they have seen increased profits since the reopening last year.
Higgler, Tashee French, who has been selling in close proximity to the office for the past five years, said “Alpart (reopening) has helped me a lot because sales, as well as our children’s attendance to school, have improved. Before (they reopened) sales and everything was very slow”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Keane also tells JIS News that the company will be expanding its production capacity as it looks to move to two million tons of alumina in the near future.
“We are also looking at moving from heavy fuel oil to liquefied natural gas in terms of the energy that will drive the operations here at JISCO/Alpart,” he says.
The company will also expand its shipping port in order to accommodate larger vessels, which will take alumina to other countries.
“Right now, we can only accommodate up to 35,000 tons in terms of vessels, and we are looking to increase that,” Mr. Keane explains.
JISCO also plans to invest billions to develop the Jamaica-Gansu Industrial Park and Special Economic Zone, which is expected to, among other things, generate tens of thousands of jobs for Jamaicans.
The reopening of JISCO/Alpart in 2017 has contributed to an upturn in the bauxite industry, with 15 per cent growth recorded in the mining sector for the October to December 2017 quarter.
By: Serena Grant