The Alpart bauxite alumina plant in St. Elizabeth, is to be closed for up to two years within the next 30 days to facilitate upgrades.

That’s according to Mining Minister, Robert Montague, but the Minister warns the timelines are not set in stone.

He was speaking in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

The plant owned by the Chinese based Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company, JISCO, has been facing problems due to its age and falling prices on the world aluminum market.

Since it’s re-opening it has contributed significantly to the country’s GDP, but is now failing to remain economically viable to its investors.

However, Minister Montague says some staff will be retained during the closure which is expected to mitigate some of the immediate fallout to local communities in St. Elizabeth.

The Minister says trade unions are now meeting with the management to negotiate how many workers will be retained during this period.