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Bauxite shipments to Gramercy refinery to see uptick

Following the decision by the Court of Appeal on Friday, in which an injunction against its mining operation in parts of St Ann was lifted, bauxite mining company Noranda says shipments to the Gramercy refinery in the United States are likely to return to normal levels.

“Shipments did not stop nor pause over the period, but obviously there was a decline,” said a company spokesperson on Monday. “It’s too early to give you anything definitive, but we are assessing and looking forward to resuming normality.”

In late April, Noranda, which now operates as Discovery Bauxite, told the Financial Gleaner that shipments were down 40 per cent amid the wait for the court to make a decision on the injunction that had barred it from mining activity in the licensed block, designated as Special Mining Lease 173, and decisions regarding injunctions in relation to two others, SML 165 and SML 172.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal set aside the SML 173 injunction granted in the Supreme Court in January, which had barred Noranda and its managing partner New Day Aluminum (Jamaica) Limited from conducting any mining activity in parts of St Ann under the 25-year licence.

The case was heard by Court of Appeal president Justice Patrick Brooks, Justice Vivene Harris and Justice Marcia Dunbar-Green.

Nine residents from communities adjacent to the mining area sought the injunction until the trial of a claim brought against SML 173. That matter is scheduled for a hearing in November-December 2023.

The case revolves around the protection of the ecologically sensitive Cockpit Country.

In April, the company said it was engaged in belt-tightening as it awaited the outcome of the court’s decision.

“The company currently, arising from the stoppage resulting, is unable to access certain bauxite reserves to meet the technical specifications of our sole customer, the Atalco Gramercy alumina refinery in Louisiana,” Noranda said then.

Noranda Jamaica is owned 49 per cent by Atalco through Discovery Bauxite Operations Limited, while the Government of Jamaica, through Jamaica Bauxite Mining Limited, holds 51 per cent.

The company, over which Discovery Bauxite has management control, ships about five million dry metric tonnes of bauxite per year. The operation is six decades old.

Atlantic Alumina, which was formerly known as New Day, is owned by Concord Resources Holdings Limited.

In April, a Noranda representative said most of the remaining bauxite in the SML 165 and SML 172 areas were not accessible in the quantity and quality needed to sustain Discovery Bauxite’s operations; and that uncertainty of access to sufficient bauxite also limited Discovery’s ability to sell additional bauxite exports to third-party customers.

Discovery’s operations involves close to 400 full-time employees. The company is reported to generate income of just under US$30 million through the export of bauxite to Gramercy annually.

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