'Bauxite dead and gone'
Bartlett calls talks of reopening moth-balled plants a pipe dream
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — It was two months ago that mining minister Phillip Pauwell assured the Manchester business community that the two major bauxite/alumina plants which formed the economic base of the parish for many years would not remain closed for much longer.
But speaking with the Jamaica Observer Central following a recent handover of a ticket booth and clubhouse at Brooks Park Sports and Recreational Complex, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) coordinator in Central Manchester St Aubyn Bartlett said the plan to reopen the Windalco plant, in particular, was a "pipe dream".
Windalco in Kirkvine, Manchester and the Alpart plant in Nain, St Elizabeth were closed in 2009 as a result of high energy costs and low prices for alumina triggered by the global economic recession.
"If the parish doesn't have 30 or more years of reserves left - what would be needed to retrofit the present plant -- it would not be economical, as I am getting it from some of the players in the industry. We can see it as being dead and gone," Bartlett said.
"I think that the bauxite company has seriously let down Manchester. I think after 50-odd years in Manchester mining bauxite, predominantly what is left is a lot of craters in the ground...," said Bartlett.
He said although persons have benefited from the industry, there are no enduring structures to signify the impact of the trade that significantly contributed to the transformation of the parish.
"There is no long-lasting monument in Manchester to say this was done by the bauxite company. I think that it is not too late, although they are about to exit or they have exited. I think that a monument is needed in Manchester, particularly in Mandeville, from the bauxite company to show that during their years here they did something that future generations can benefit from," said Bartlett.
He suggested that funds from bauxite could be invested at Brooks Park to help to make it a "proper" development.
Bartlett is seeking to challenge the Central Manchester seat now held by Member of Parliament Peter Bunting in the next general election, constitutionally due in 2016.
Bunting—- who is also Minister of National Security — defeated the JLP's Danville Walker for the constituency at the 2011 polls.
Paulwell's announcement about the bauxite/alumina plants was made at a meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce late April, prior to his sectoral debate in parliament.
He said then that the public would be seeing a "determined minister" working to ensure that the plants are reopened.
Paulwell told the chamber audience that in the "new phase", bauxite/alumina mining efforts would be made to prevent the environmental devastation previously associated with the industry.