With a downturn in the world market prices of aluminum and concerns in the local production of alumina, Mining Minister, Robert Montague, is being tight-lipped about the negotiations over the future of the bauxite alumina plant, Alpart.

Speaking with Nationwide News this afternoon the Minister says the negotiations are at a delicate stage.

The response comes as Opposition Spokesman on Mining, Phillip Paulwell, says “darker days” could be coming in the immediate future of the plant in

Stevian Simmonds has that story.

The Minister Montague says details of the ongoing discussions regarding Alpart cannot be divulged at this time.

He says the government is aware of the value of the investment and has taken proactive steps to ensure that the welfare of the workers and the livelihood of the community are duly protected.

The purchase and reopening of the plant by the Chinese based Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company, JISCO, promised billions of dollars in investment to Jamaica.

The reopening alone and subsequent shipments of alumina contributed significantly to Jamaica’s recent gains in GDP growth.

However, JISCO, has already laid off hundreds of temporary workers in recent weeks in a community that is heavily reliant on the plant for its economic survival.

JISCO has also announced it’s delaying the upgrade of the refinery until 2020.

However, Minister Montague says he’s unable to say when he may be able to update the public as to Alpart’s future.

Just this morning Opposition Spokesman, Phillip Paulwell, expressed concern about the future of the plant.

This, against the background of a downturn in the world market prices of aluminum.