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Coal power plant to be built by Jiuquan Iron & Steel for alumina production at Nain, St Elizabeth , Jamaica


This is a conflict on a coal fired power plant, and at the same time could become a conflicts on bauxite mining.  In July 2016 it was reported (4) that "Russian mining company signed a deal for the US$300-million sale of its 1.6-million-tonne Alpart alumina refinery in Jamaica to China’s Jinquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO). In a separate pact with the Jamaican Government, JISCO agreed to the rehabilitation and expansion of the plant and its conversion to 500,000-tonne-a-year aluminium smelter. The inking of the agreements happened in Beijing, where Jamaica’s mining minister, Mike Henry, and his energy colleague Andrew Wheatley have been having talks with Rusal, JISCO, as well as the Development Bank of China. The bank, according to Gleaner Business sources, has signalled a willingness to commit, over the next several years, up to US$2 billion to the project. An abundance of cheap energy is a critical ingredient in aluminium smelting, and its absence in Jamaica has been a barrier to the country’s ambition to convert its bauxite through all the stages to the production of the metal. After 2008, Alpart refinery was mothballed for seven years in face of a soft market for alumina " (4).

Opposition arose to the proposed  coal fired power plant. The 1,000-MW coal-fired plant to be built by the Chinese company Jiuquan Iron & Steel at Nain, St Elizabeth would be linked to the upgrading of bauxite-aluminium manufacturing. Environmentalists said "No to Coal-Fired Power Plant in Jamaica". (1).  More than 21,000 people signed a petition opposing coal-fired power in Jamaica. The #SayNOtoCoalJA initiative, being led by theJamaica Environment Trust (JET), is calling on the Government of Jamaica not to turn to coal as a fuel source for industrial development here. In July 2016, the Jamaican Government announced the sale of the old Alpart bauxite plant at Nain in St. Elizabeth to Jiuquan Iron & Steel Company Limited (JISCO) of China, as well as a 2 billion dollar investment in an industrial zone, powered by a 1000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant, creating 3,000 jobs. JET wants the government instead to continue the transition to a new energy future for Jamaica, as outlined in many government documents which emphasise energy conservation, renewables and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a transitional fuel for the Jamaica, a nation of 2.7 million people. “Coal-fired plants have several negative impacts on public health and the environment,” said JET’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Diana McCaulay. “Coal plant emissions cause respiratory illness in humans, and affect the environment by creating acid rain and contributing to global climate change.” “Coal, in fact, is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels,” said McCaulay. “It emits greater quantities of carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels.” Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions represent the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are blamed for  climate change.

A modern coal-fired plant emits 762 kilograms of CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, if there is no CO2 capture. The 1000 MW plant alone would emit roughly 6.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year, just over half of Jamaica’s 2025 target under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Jamaica was among 150 nations to sign the Paris Agreement, which signalled the commitment of the international community to combat climate change. “The building of the proposed coal-fired plant would be in direct contradiction to that agreement,” said McCaulay.

Coal-fired power plants also typically emit a host of other pollutants besides carbon dioxide. The possible mercury, lead, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, dust and soot emissions associated with a coal-fired power plant also have significant impacts on public and environmental health.

 According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 59 percent of all sulphur dioxide and 18 percent of all oxides from nitrogen emissions come from coal-fired power plants. Another environmentalist, Wayne Chen, described the proposed plant as “short-sighted”, adding that it poses danger to residents in the vicinity of the plant. “While there will be immediate gains for the owners, in particular, and for the country, the extent to which is still not clear, the losses in the long run will cancel these gains,” he explained. “Contrary to popular belief, Jamaica’s greenhouse gas emissions are not insignificant. In 2011, our emissions, based on World Bank data, compared with those of Uruguay in South America and Georgia in Europe. With an additional 1,000 MW coal plant, our GHG emissions will more than double...". , e

For his part, Jamaican Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley dismissed the disquiet over reports of the coal plant as much ado about nothing. "Where we are right now, we have not received any application, any proposal, as it relates to a coal-fired plant at Alpart,” Wheatley told IDN. (1). Meanwhile, it was asserted (2) that "Coal is the only feasible option for a 1000-megawatt power plant being contemplated for the new owners of bauxite alumina company, Alpart. So said former Chairman of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute and Co-Chair of the Energy Monitoring Committee, Dr. Carlton Davis. The Chinese-owned Jiquan Iron and Steel, JISCO, was finalizing arrangements to take over Alpart, as part of a planned USD$2-billion investment in Jamaica. There’s been opposition to JISCO’s intention to build a 1000-megawatt coal-fired plant to run its operations. But Dr. Davis says coal is the only feasible option." (2) . At the end, by November 2017, it was said that "It'a LNG and not coal for Alpart plant". (5)

Basic Data

Name of conflict: Coal power plant to be built by Jiuquan Iron & Steel for alumina production at Nain, St Elizabeth , Jamaica
Location of conflict:St Elizabeth
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Tailings from mines
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

In July 2016, the Jamaican Government announced the sale of the old Alpart bauxite plant at Nain in St. Elizabeth to Jiuquan Iron & Steel Company Limited (JISCO) of China, as well as a 2 billion dollar investment in an industrial zone, powered by a 1000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant, creating 3,000 jobs.

This would be related to the energy needs of an enlarged Alpart bauxite/alumina factory. Alumina Partners of Jamaica, also known as Alpart, is a company that owns and operates a bauxite refinery in Nain, Jamaica.Alpart was founded in 1969 as a joint venture by Kaiser Aluminum, Reynolds Aluminum, and Anaconda.Alpart exported 1.65 million tonnes of alumina overseas per year, and earned gross revenues of US$1.3 billion in 2007. As of 2011, previous partner Hydro divested its 35% stake to RusAl which assumed 100% stake in Alpart. In 2016, UC Rusal sold 100% stake of the Alumina Partners of Jamaica (‘Alpart’) to the Chinese state industrial group, JIUQUAN IRON & STEEL (GROUP) Co. Ltd. (‘JISCO). (Wikipedia).’

After the economic crisis of 2008, "the loss of Alpart’s plant was a major blow to the economy, putting hundreds out of work ... However, now that Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company has begun operations at the plant again, the operation is expected to employ up to one thousand workers, with at least seventy percent of the force to be drawn from among Jamaican natives. In addition, JISCO has pledged to invest around US$2 billion to establish an industrial zone in the area, comprised of bauxite mines, an alumina refinery, a coal-fired power plant, electrical infrastructure, rolling mills, and value-added aluminium production. According to estimates, this secondary operation could lead to as many as three thousand more jobs."(3)

Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,000,000,000
Start of the conflict:2016
Company names or state enterprises:Jiuquan Iron & Steel Company Limited (JISCO) from China
Alpart. Alumina Partners of Jamaica from Jamaica
International and Finance InstitutionsDevelopment Bank of China from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:#SayNOtoCoalJA initiative, led by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Negotiated alternative solution
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:"It's LNG and not coal for Alpart plant". "A 230 MGW power plant using liquefied natural gas (LNG) is to be built to replace an aging and creaky, oil-based power plant. at Alpart". (6)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Whatever the environmental effects of the upgrading of the Alpart factory, it seems that the power plant will not be fuelled by coal but by LNG. Seen locally as a victory.

Sources & Materials

(5) It's LNG and not coal for Alpart plant. November 03, 2017

29 May 2017 Jamaica Observer. JISCO's big plans for Alpart. GARFIELD MYERS

(1) By Desmond L. Brown. No to coal fired plant in Jamaica. 27 February 2017. KINGSTON, Jamaica (ACP-IDN).

(6) Jamaica Observer. Alpart expands. 1st January 2018. Nain, St Elizabeth— Environmental protection and the return of mined lands to people will be among the priorities for government as expansion and redevelopment of the JISCO Alpart alumina plant takes place over the next few years, says Mining Minister Mike Henry.

(4). Deal signed for Chinese company to take over alumina plant in Jamaica. July 21, 2016

Rethink coal plan' - Environmentalists decry Nain plant proposal, gov't official also wary.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Nain power station. Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy.

A proposed 1,000-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica.

(2)'Only Coal Can Save Alpart’ – Davis. Tauna Thomas Aug 03, 2016, Midday News

(3)Jamaican Businessman Touts Revival of Alpart’s Bauxite Operations as Blueprint for Local Investment . Aluminium Insider 4 July 2017.

Meta information

Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3405