The critical foreign exchange-earning bauxite and alumina industry slumped in 2012 after a considerable bounce back in 2011.
Alumina production fell by more than 10% when compared to 2012 to just 1.75 Million Metric Tonnes of Alumina, after producing 1.96 Million Metric Tonnes in 2011. However, these numbers are a paltry representation of Jamaica’s real alumina capacity.
As a percentage of alumina plants currently in operation, 2012’s production figure would yield 83% utilisation. However, as a percentage of Jamaica’s total potential alumina production, 2012’s production figure would yield a figure of 40% utilisation. Unfortunately, high energy costs continue to be the major stumbling block to returning Jamaica to full alumina production as the global recession continues to ease.
JAMALCO in Clarendon, which is 55% owned by Alcoa of America and 45% owned by the Government of Jamaica through Clarendon Alumina Partners (CAP) has a capacity to produce 1.45 Million Metric Tonnes per annum.
WINDALCO’s Ewarton plant, which is 93% owned by UCRusal of Russia and 7% owned by the Government of Jamaica through Jamaica Bauxite Mining Co. Ltd. (JBM) has the capacity to produce 670,000 Metric Tonnes per annum. There is also Ewarton’s sister plant, Kirkvine which has the capacity to produce 610,000 Metric Tonnes per annum, but has been closed since the start of the great recession.
ALPART is the largest alumina plant in Jamaica and has remained closed since 2009. Its capacity is 1.7 Million Metric Tonnes per annum and the plant is 100% owned by UCRusal.
Crude Bauxite production fell by 6.5% when compared to 2011 to 4.77 Million Metric Tonnes of Crude Bauxite, after producing 5.11 Million Metric Tonnes in 2011. Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, which operates in St. Ann, is responsible for all of the crude bauxite production and export from Jamaica. The bauxite plant has a capacity to produce 5.4 Million Metric Tonnes of crude bauxite per annum. For 2012, the plant showed an 88% capacity utilisation.