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Paulwell says future of bauxite, alumina sector promising

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Paulwell says future of bauxite, alumina sector promising

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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OPPOSITION spokesman on mining Phillip Paulwell says the bauxite and alumina sector remains positive, despite challenges, as the industry’s future looks promising based on growing global demand.

He said that given these realities, it is alarming that Jamaica is foregoing the levy on bauxite at the point when the country should be ready to reap its benefits.

“We are adamant that this diminishing resource must be managed in the best interest of the Jamaican people,” he said on Tuesday while making his contribution to the 2019/20 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

Paulwell also expressed satisfaction that the Alpart plant has again commenced operations, under the management of Chinese firm, Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO).

“I’m pleased to see renewed life and energy in the towns surrounding the plant. I’m glad with the growing levels of employment and the many corporate contributions to the community. I’m happy for the sharing of technology and training of Jamaicans at Chinese universities. JISCO is indeed making a difference in the Jamaican economy; we are pleased that JISCO has honoured its commitments and I wish them well. We are looking forward to the expansion of the refinery and the installation of new energy system,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paulwell said with United States sanctions on Russian aluminium giant United Company (UC) Rusal, and by extension its Windalco plant, the company should now move to fulfil its undertaking to modernise operations and become a base location.

At the same time, he said he is alarmed at the deteriorating financial position of Clarendon Alumina Production (CAP), which he believes might be a result of escalating increase in the cost of production at the Jamalco alumina plant.

He said the plant has moved from a small operating profit in 2016/17 to losses last year, and another is likely for this year. He also questioned whether the challenges being faced by 55 per cent share partner Noble Group is affecting local operations.

“I urge proactivity, for the Government of Jamaica to assume greater responsibility to bring those costs down and to make CAP a profitable venture,” he said.

Commodities trader Noble, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, reported a net loss of close to US$5 billion in 2017, despite selling many of its assets in a bid to stay afloat. In October 2018, Noble filed for Chapter 15 protection with the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, seeking to establish arrangements with its creditors.

Turning to the issue of resettlement of bauxite lands, Paulwell said the ease with which citizens are displaced must be matched by ease of resettlement.

“It is not beyond us to find a solution to this vexed issue,” he stated, promising to establish a special regime to liberate mined-out bauxite lands for productive purposes, including agricultural production and housing, whenever the Opposition forms Government.

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Blue Mountain fun

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Blue Mountain fun

Zipline course added to BM Tours’ range of activities

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 14, 2019

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Operations at Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours (BMTours) in Portland have expanded to include zipline activities, Manager Rohan McLeod has revealed.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer North & East last Wednesday, McLeod described the new addition as “unique and exciting”.

Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours is a sustainable community-based tourism initiative which began in 1991.

“Our zipline is 1,000 feet long and it is the longest continuous zip line in Jamaica. All the others go from one landing to the next but ours is just one straight thing across,” McLeod stated.

He boasted, too, that it is the highest zipline in Jamaica, primarily because of geography and height above ground.

Activities are expected to begin before the next winter tourist season Observer North & East was told.

“It will be our newest attraction to the Blue Mountain. We wanted to add a difference because we have been doing the bicycle tours for [almost] 30 years and so we decided to add zipline to our repertoire to make things more exciting. We’re also looking at, for the future, a rock climbing wall to make it one big, fun thing in the Blue Mountains,” he shared.

While locally, the business enjoys “tremendous” support, McLeod noted that the company’s clientele is mostly made up of tourists from the United States, with a few coming in from Europe and Canada.

“Based on the feedback we’ve been getting I think our zipline business is going to go very, very far. It’s going to be huge. Every week we’ve been getting calls from locals and persons from overseas, even on our Facebook page, persons contacting us asking how soon because they are eager to come. Persons are really geared up and ready to go,” McLeod stressed.

The custom-designed zipline, surrounded by unspoilt mountain environment, is in keeping with the company’s eco-awareness.

Each course offers panoramic views of mist-covered peaks and pristine, emerald valleys, the manager promised.

While not disclosing the figure for the heavy expansion, McLeod noted that it was a “tidy sum”.

That includes the cost to train team members, as well as acquiring international certification.

“Myself and the rest of the team have been suitably trained. We went through 16 weeks of training under the guidance of a team from Costa Rica and got our international certification. The safety gear that we use is very expensive, with one single set costing almost US$1,000. One of those safety gears can hold weight of up to 600 pounds.

“We also do tandem ziplining, where if someone comes and they are a little bit nervous one of our certified guides will be able to take the person across,” said McLeod.

The end of the course is topped off with a trek to a waterfall within close proximity.

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Murder, rape down in Portland

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Murder, rape down in Portland

BY EVERARD OWEN
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 14, 2019

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THE police are reporting a 28 per cent reduction in major crimes in Portland when compared to a similar period last year.

The figure for shootings, however, remains the same.

The information was disclosed by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Beresford Williams, who was acting for Superintendent Duane Wellington, at a recent press conference in the parish.

“We are happy to report that the Portland division is enjoying a reduction of 28 per cent in crime. As of this time last year, we had recorded 80 crimes and as of the same period this year we have recorded 58,” DSP Williams said.

Eight murders have been recorded since the start of the year when compared to the 11 recorded over a similar period last year. The figure for shootings is similar to last year’s five. There were six reported cases of rape last year but that figure has been reduced to two since the start of this year. Cases of aggravated assault are down to two when compared to the eight recorded over a similar period last year. Eleven robberies were recorded last year at this time; since the start of this year, five robberies have been reported.

“One of the challenges that we find is that of the eight murders recorded, approximately 50 per cent are domestic-related in nature. As a management team, we have decided that there is a need for increased interaction with citizens across the parish,” DSP Williams shared.

“We have been going out in the last two months into the varying districts right across the parish to have discussions with the citizens, alerting them of the need and how to deal with domestic dispute, as well as any other issues that they might have relating to the job. We believe those meetings have gone well and I say thanks to all the stakeholders who have participated with us and in particular the [Portland] municipal corporation,” he added.

Of the eight murders committed so far, the police have arrested six people.

“Presently, we are seeking the public’s assistance in arresting one Elroy Griffiths otherwise called (o/c) “GREG”, who is a security guard and his last known address is Olivier Housing Scheme in Buff Bay for the last murder that was committed on August 20 in that same district.

“We are seeking your assistance in bringing him to books. We are also seeking the public’s assistance in arresting Everton White o/c “Barby” of Cornwall Barracks district for a murder that was committed in 2015. They are the two most wanted in the parish currently,” DSP Williams said.

“We also have on our wanted list Tammo Hase o/c “Tommy” of White River, who is wanted for shooting with intent earlier this year in February and Marlon Bryce from Plymouth Hill, Port Antonio wanted for burglary and larceny; Peter Swaby from a Port Antonio address, who is wanted for robbery with aggravation,” he added.

At the same time, Williams said the Portland police are on a drive to tighten traffic management in Port Antonio.

“I say thanks to the traffic department who has led this operation and the [Portland] municipal corporation for working with us to make this drive the success it has been so far and we aim to tighten the screws as we participate in the Area Two ‘Operation Restore’.

“This has several aspects, including tightening control at our borders as we work with all divisions close to us — St Thomas, St Mary and St Andrew. We will be tightening up on the anti-vending in the town. This will help to arrest our wanted persons, arrest persons involved in lotto scamming, persons involved in the drug trade and other crimes.

“We ask our motoring public as we step up these drives to bear with us, as there will be some delays from time to time but it is for your own safety and security. Last year, we arrested in this division over 100 strange men wanted for several crimes in other parishes,” the cop said.

Meanwhile, the parish has recorded seven fatal crashes so far this year, when compared to the four recorded over a similar period last year.

“That is a significant increase in terms of percentage and the drives on traffic management is aimed at reducing these numbers. We have already surpassed the five [in total] recorded last year and we have no room to play with and we hope through our action and through the drivers cooperating with us and becoming more responsible so we can hold it at the seven,” he stated.

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US Embassy stages second SARA awards

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Twelve Jamaican organisations and individuals representing various sectors of society were recently awarded for their work at the US Embassy’s second Stakeholders Appreciation Recognition & Awards.

Awards were made in four categories — Partnership Impact, Outside the Box, Spotlight, and Pinnacle — and were presented to people drawn from areas representing the focus areas of the US-Caribbean 2020 Engagement Strategy — academia, diplomacy, security, entrepreneurship, energy, and health.

The Jamaica Observer was there and now brings you a photo story of the event, staged at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on September 27.

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