Alcoa Resumes Jamaica Alumina Shipments
Alcoa Inc. began shipping alumina last week from its newly repaired port at Rocky Point, Jamaica, after storm damage from Hurricane Dean disabled its Jamalco operations in mid-August, a company spokesman told Reuters. (Reuters November 14,2007).
"Jamalco began its loading activities at the port last week. They began loading alumina at the Rocky Point port. That was completed and that shipment is underway," said Kevin Lowery, spokesman for the world`s top aluminum producer.
On August 30, partial production resumed at Alcoa`s 1.4Mt/y Jamalco alumina refinery in Clarendon, Jamaica, but damage to the port prevented shipments until now. Refinery operations at Jamalco, which Alcoa owns jointly with the Jamaican government, were halted on August 18 in advance of Hurricane Dean.
Jamalco`s port facility at Rocky Point, Clarendon, suffered considerable damage in the summer hurricane Lowery said the process for restarting the remainder of the alumina production had also begun as anticipated.
But, he added that the ramp-up to full capacity will take time. "They are on the way to getting up to a normal production level," he said, but refrained from setting a target date. "We don`t like to put a timetable on that piece of it because it`s not an exact science. It will take a little bit of time but they are on that path," said the spokesman.
He also said repairs on the port had evolved into two phases. The first was intended to put Jamalco in a position to begin shipping immediately and was underway. The second, longer-term phase is intended to make changes at the port to help minimize the impact of future storms.
"So we are taking steps to be in a position to do something both short term and longer term. The short term has now been completed. The longer term is what we`re still working on, like reinforcements," said Lowery.
The alumina refinery had been operating at half capacity, and the restart of the second digester had begun. "It`s not as if you flip a switch and you are there. But they are in the process of ramping up to full production," the spokesman said.
He added that the port damage raised two different issues. "One, that we could not ship alumina, and the second was that we could not store it. As a result, we could not produce it and have no place to store it. So they had to take down the production level," he said.
With the shipping and storage problems addressed, he said production can ramp up again as work continues on the longer-term project. Lowery also said the force majeure declared after the hurricane will remain in place until the refinery gets up and running at 100%.