In 2005 Tasson Perry's life changed for the better when he got employment with Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners.
Prior to his enrolment as an equipment operator, Perry struggled to make ends meet, bouncing from one unreliable source of income to another. This was never the life he had imagined for himself, but Noranda saved him, he said.
“Noranda is the first place me ever work and it change my life because it help me to do a lot. It takes me away from certain things and let me understand what it means to be responsible and have goals in life,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“I was in the street doing any little hustling and sometimes mi like [do] some painting or if me get like mechanic work mi do it. Me grateful for Noranda because maybe by now, if things never change, I would probably be dead or in jail,” he added.
Perry is among the thousands of people employed by the bauxite company in St Ann. Vice-president and country manager at Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, Delroy Dell, while speaking at the company's public meeting last Tuesday shared that Noranda continues to be one of the main economic drivers in the parish.
“Noranda is among the single-largest employers in the parish of St Ann and employs over 1,000 persons directly. It also provides employment on a part-time basis for another 2,000 to 3,000 persons,” said Campbell.
The company has been in operation for over 50 years in St Ann, positively changing lives whether through employment opportunities or outreach programmes, Dell added.
“Our partnership has firmly established itself as a stable, reliable, and dependable organisation, which has worked well throughout communities through its existing mining lease. The company's outreach and involvement nationally and at the parish level is extensive and covers sponsorship and partnership in many areas, which includes community infrastructure, agriculture, health and wellness, hospitals, education, sports, environmental initiative, and scholarships,” Dell shared.
As for Perry, it is a “complete blessing” to be among those who would have gained from Noranda's community- building initiative. The 39-year-old is a full-time employee at the company's Water Valley location in Alexandria.
“Since mi a work mi get to buy a car and mi have it on my agenda to start a business, and I am stable enough to work and provide for my family. My job also motivates me to want to do more for myself because mi learn a lot of skills that I didn't even know I could have,” he told the Sunday Observer.
“The company also reward me with a lot of certificate and that make me feel good and like mi accomplish something in life,” he added.
Apart from those employed directly to the company, independent contractors assigned to the company also provide jobs for additional people.
“The company is one of the single and largest foreign exchange earners in the country and contributes US$84 million to the local economy. This is spent on salary and wages, contractor services, and procurement office,” said Dell.
The bauxite company has also extended its reach to cater to farmers, introducing them to the luxury of greenhouses needed for fruition of their crops.
“Noranda has firmly established itself among the bauxite and alumina sector in Jamaica as the leader in introducing and pioneering lead technology to our farmers. I speak specifically to greenhouse farming. Over the past 15 years the company has been in partnership with JSIF [Jamaica Social Investment Fund] and JCI and built a total of 136 greenhouses,” Dell shared
“We expect also to establish another 80 houses within the 2022-23 period in Armadale, Summer Hill, and Gibraltar in St Ann,” he added.