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14.07.2005 Business & Finance

Jamaica to share alumina mining knowledge with Ghana

Jamaican Observer

Prime Minister Patterson has committed Jamaica to sharing its knowledge of alumina mining with Ghana as the West African country prepares to develop and expand its smelting capability.

Patterson's offer of assistance was an apparent goodwill gesture from which he hoped Jamaica would benefit as he expressed anticipation that Ghana would consider Jamaica a supplier of raw material for processing.

"Ghana, as you know, developed a smelting capability through the construction of a dam many years ago and is presently engaged with one of the multinational companies in seeking to expand that facility," Patterson told journalists at a press briefing with Ghanian president John Kufuor at Jamaica House.

"We anticipate that some of the alumina will originate from Jamaica, so we also have some interest in that facility being expanded."

On Tuesday, Kufuor - who was on a three-day working visit to the island which ended yesterday - led a Ghanian delegation on a tour of the Jamalco refinery to get a first-hand look of the Clarendon plant.

It is expected that Ghana's expanded smelter plant will boast similarities to the Jamalco refinery. Jamalco is a 50/50 partnership between the Jamaican Government and Alcoa Minerals of Clarendon and has the capacity to produce 1.25 million tonnes of bauxite annually.

"President Kufuor has a strong interest in being exposed to what we have been able to do in Jamaica in the development of the mining sector and the alumina industry in particular," Patterson said.

"We have said to President Kufuor, whatever we know we are prepared willingly to share, and anytime - night or day - his advisors will be welcomed in Jamaica. And to the extent that he may need a visit from some members of our alumina team, we are prepared to make them available," Patterson added.

Kufuor told journalists that the visit gave him and his delegation a peek at "vital sectors" of Jamaica's economy and said he was impressed by the development of the island's bauxite industry.

The mining discussion was one of several topics touched on in the bilateral talks between the two countries.

According to Patterson, the Joint Commission which exists between the two countries would meet later this year "to look at the areas which require further development and to see how we can benefit from the arrangements that will form the work of the bilateral commission".

He said other areas that were discussed during the talks included the reform of the United Nations Security Council, people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, co-operation in tertiary education, and the exchange of persons engaged in a variety of professional fields, particularly in education and health.

"We are working together in our negotiations with the European Union for regional economic partnership agreements," Patterson added.