Q&A PARRIS A. LYEW-AYEE
Parris A. Lyew-Ayee Executive Director, Jamaica Bauxite Institute.
Since you last spoke to Sustainable Business Magazine in 2015, what major developments have taken place in Jamaicaâ€™s bauxite industry? The local bauxite/alumina sector had a subdued year in 2015, but the major challenge came in 2016, with the threat of closure of the St. Ann Bauxite operations. Noranda Aluminum Holdings, which partnered with the government of Jamaica in the operation of the St. Ann Bauxite mine, filed for bankruptcy in 2016 after one of its main markets for bauxite exports, Sherwin Alumina, also filed for bankruptcy. The unfolding situation had a significant destabilizing effect on the bauxite mining 16 | SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MAGAZINE
sub-sector resulting in job cuts and a decline in mining operations. However, as the year drew to a close some optimism returned to the sector. First, the St. Ann bauxite plant was kept open under new owners, New Day Aluminum, and continues to export bauxite to the USA and employ several hundred workers. Second, there was an agreement between Jamalco and New Fortress Energy Ltd for the construction of a natural gas facility adjacent to the Jamalco alumina refinery. The use of natural gas in the energy system will diversify the plants fuel source, improve efficiency, and reduce cost. The facility is expected to be completed in 2018.