PR: How would you describe today’s investment and business environment?
Delroy Dell (DD): "There has definitely been an uptick in the country’s business confidence. It is certainly the highest it has been in the last 3 years and the numbers seem to be supporting this attitude.
PR: Please tell us more about this new company and your short-medium term plans.
DD: The New Day story is a very favourable story for Jamaica. When New Day purchased the facility, we were on the verge of shutting down the facility, which would have seen over 800 employees (direct and contracted) losing their jobs with the plant closure. New Day is trying to reposition itself. We are currently providing bauxite to our sister plant, the refinery, in Louisiana. The refinery is already operating at 100% capacity. So we are aggressively looking for new markets as we have excess capacity in the Jamaican facility. We want to ramp up production to be operating at 100%. We are looking to the East as the opportunities in the New World are limited.
PR: New Day is a good example of the PPPs that the Government is rolling out across all sectors. How smooth is the dialogue between the public and private sector?
DD: With regards to the bauxite sector in particular, the partnership between the Government and the mining companies is a good model for companies globally across all the sector stakeholders. In general, there has been good Government support in terms of regulation and the regulator. The Government views the sector favourably and often offers concessions, where appropriate, to support us.
PR: The most Hon. Prime Minister Holness expressed, during a talk with U.S. Vice-president Pence, optimism about the future and confirmed Jamaica’s continued interest in building stronger ties with the United States and enhancing current partnerships. What is your overview on the relations of both nations and how could they further be enhanced?
DD: The two countries have long enjoyed good relations. I do not see this changing in the near future. What can be done to enhance these relationships? I believe that we will continue to partner in trade missions and the like. We have good links and a good framework to continue building on the relationships between the two countries.
PR: Minister Henry recently stared that the country is open to investments that could be game changing. What investment or PPP opportunities do you want to highlight?
DD: In the mining sector, we have several. First of all, we have rare earth materials opportunities that come hand in hand with the bauxite mining as we have a heavy concentration in Jamaican bauxite. There is a key opportunity here for partnership and investment.
Then we have energy, sustainable and green energy solutions. This is the most significant opportunity. Very little of the energy currently being produced for this sector at this point in time is renewable. New Day is in talks with various potential partners to diversify our energy mix in this area.
If we can diversify our energy sources, our energy mix, then it makes the sector viable for the long-term. We have reserves of bauxite that can last for the next 50 years. The key point is that the new facilities coming onstream worldwide, are coming on at the lower end of the cost curve as they do not have these energy issues. If we resolve our energy mix situation, we can compete for the next 50 years.
PR: How are you working with the local communities?
DD: With regards to our community involvement, we have a huge array of activities. This company has been the frontrunner in post mining operations development. One of our key initiatives is the implementation of greenhouse farming in our mined-out lands. This has been adapted as a model for other companies to follow. We provide scholarships at secondary and tertiary levels. Also sporting facilities for the local communities. We impact the communities in a favorable fashion across a range of activities.
PR: Noranda-Jamaica Bauxite Partners was named as a good example of sustainable mining operations. How are you continuing to manage the sustainable use of Jamaica’s natural resources?
DD: We have various programs that ensure that we return the land to productive use post mining. We have regulator obligations to restore the land and the company has been fully compliant in this. We believe that the greenhouse initiative in particular is a success story.
PR: What is your assessment of the Government’s efforts to improve the energy supply situation?
DD: It not a question of effort – the LNG changes are now a reality. We now have tangible improvements to the energy situation that has seen a diversification of the energy mix available.
PR:What is the future you want to create for Jamaica’s mining industry and for Jamaica in general?
DD: If I was to leave a legacy, it would be to ensure that the facility was still around. This would maintain the jobs and trickle down effects on the local and national economy. Whatever mechanisms we put in place to ensure the facility is still operating, and operating in a sustainable fashion – continuing to be good partners with the community, minimizing the impact on the environment and the people – this is critical.