Up to the weekend no official word had come from Chinese metals giant, Jiquan Iron and Steel Company Ltd (JISCo), owners and operators of the JISCO Alpart alumina refinery here.

However, authoritative sources told The Jamaica Observer Central over recent days that the impending closure of the refinery, to facilitate modernisation and increased capacity, could last 18 to 24 months.

“We hope it will be shorter, but that’s what we are hearing,” one source said.

A positive for local people is that a significant number of people are likely to stay on the job for routine maintenance work as well as the modernisation phase.

Early last week, Jamaica’s Ministry of Mining announced in a release that JISCO had decided to “temporarily suspend alumina production (at JISCO Alpart) to ensure an efficient upgrade process”.

The mining ministry’s news release gave no indication of how long the break from production was likely to last but appeared to suggest the plant would gradually shut down over the next two months.

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