Jamaica’s largest bauxite company and alumina shuts down…

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Jamaica’s largest bauxite and alumina producing company, Alumina Partners of Jamaica, closed its doors on Friday and completed a temporary shutdown that saw more than 900 workers lose their jobs.

The company, known as Alpart, had announced in March that it would suspend operations for at least a year because the global recession had caused aluminum prices to fall and reduced the demand for bauxite and alumina.

Alpart’s management said the shutdown would allow it to prepare the 54-year-old plant for future development.

“I want to emphasize that this is a temporary closure, a temporary situation,” company spokesman Lance Neita told journalists.

He said that a skeleton staff would stay on to maintain the plant but did not provide numbers.

“We will have a team of employees there until the end of May until they are replaced by another team to carry on the maintenance work during the temporary closure,” Neita said.

Alpart had already cut production by 50 percent and laid off 250 temporary workers in January, then cut permanent employees’ work time to three days a week, down from five.

Aluminum giant UC Rusal of Russia owns 65 percent of the company, with Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL) owning the remaining 35 percent. The plant has a production capacity of 1.65 million tonnes of alumina annually.

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