US company gets a chunk of Jamaicas bauxite mining
WASHINGTON GROUP International Inc. (WGII) has been awarded two contracts to take over the entire bauxite mining operations for West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) for the next decade.
With the two awards announced last Thursday, Washington Group will be mining and delivering approximately one-third of Jamaica’s annual bauxite production of around 15 million tonnes. The full service contract was signed on Friday, 30 June, WINDALCO said in a statement yesterday.
Based in Boise, Idaho, WGII describes itself as a company delivering engineering, construction, and management solutions for businesses and governments worldwide. It has approximately 25,000 employees at work in more than 30 countries and more than US$3 billion in annual revenue.
The contracts will generate gross revenues of approximately US$300 million combined, a WGII statement issued last week said. The bauxite will be taken from WINDALCO’s Schwallen-burgh and Russel Place mines for use in the respective Ewarton and Kirkvine alumina refineries.
“This is a terrific fit with our international mining skills and is consistent with our strategic plan for continued global expansion in the mining industry,” said Bob Zaist, president of Washington Group’s Mining Business Unit, which is headquartered in Denver. Washington Group also will perform mine development and post-mining reclamation.
CONTRACT MINING OPERATIONS
The mining activities at Schwallenburgh are currently being manned by approximately 110 regular WINDALCO employees and most of these employees will be made redundant, WINDALCO stated. It said WGII will be conducting interviews to fill the positions necessary to conduct contract mining operations and these interviews will include the current WINDALCO mining employees.
WINDALCO is a joint venture between the Government of Jamaica and Glencore Alumina Jamaica Limited, a Swiss natural resources group. Glencore manages the joint venture. Apart from its Ewarton Works and Kirkvine Works alumina refineries and associated mines, the company operates the Port Esquivel shipping port and farms in Manchester and St. Ann.
WINDALCO has, for some time, been in discussions to outsource the mining operations at Schwallenburgh to Washington Group International, the WINDALCO statement said. It said WGII also purchased the assets of Bauxite Mining and Transportation Limited (formerly Henry Walker Eltin), effective July 1, 2006.
Norman DaCosta, vice-president of the National Workers’ Union, said Glencore had bought the Jamaican operations of Australian mining outfit Henry Walker Eltin earlier this year and had been running it since.
Mr. DaCosta said, WGII “last Monday took over mining operations at Russel Place and in the next three weeks they should take charge of the Schwallenburgh mines as well.”
Detailed discussions with the Washington Group will continue to determine the best date for them to start operations at Schwallenburgh, the WINDALCO statement said.
The alumina producer said the outsourcing of its mining operations is being done “in our continued effort to improve efficiencies and to allow some capital to be focused on our alumina operations.”
Mr. DaCosta said that it made sense for minerals processing companies to partner with specialised mining companies who could carry out that task more efficiently than they can. Apart from WGII, Jamaica’s three other bauxite mining companies are St. Ann Mining Co. at Discovery Bay, Jamalco in Clarendon and Alumina Partners of Jamaica in St. Elizabeth.
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