Gov’t still committed to keeping WINDALCO open, says mining minister

Jamaica Information Service – Minister of Transport and Mining, Robert Montague, says the Government is making its best efforts to ensure that West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco) remains open and continues to make a positive contribution to the economy.

He gave the assurance on Tuesday (July 24) as he updated Parliament on Government’s lobby to the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for waivers on sanctions against Windalco’s parent company, UC RUSAL of Russia.

In April 2018, the OFAC added seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control to its sanctioned list.

Oleg Deripaska, the single largest shareholder in UC RUSAL, was named on the list.

“In an effort to reduce the effects of the sanctions on over 1,200 workers from Windalco, the livelihood of the Jamaican citizens and the local economy, an appeal was made to the US Department of the Treasury in June 2018,” Minister Montague noted.

“The Government of Jamaica sought the grant of waivers for UC Rusal to allow the company to purchase fuel, equipment and spares, chemicals and other supplies needed to sustain the economic operation of the Ewarton plant and the attendant activities,” he said.

Robert Montague

Minister Montague told the House that through the Government’s efforts Windalco will be exempt from the sanctions imposed up to October 23.

He said the OFAC advised that Windalco’s commercial activities were covered under General Licence 14 (GL-14), which expires later this year.

“To the extent that the relevant activities of Windalco involve transactions that are consistent with the maintenance and wind-down activities authorised by GL-14, US persons may continue to engage in those transactions with Windalco until the expiration of GL-14. Similarly, transactions with Windalco by non-US persons will not be considered significant for the purposes of a sanction determination,” the Minister said.

He noted that “while this is not a long-term solution, it is a positive step in the right direction”.

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