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Trinidad to go full speed ahead with Alutech project



By Corey Connelly

Petroleumworld 10 04 2018

AFTER being in abeyance for some eight years at significant financial loss to TT, the Prime Minister yesterday declared the long-awaited Alutech Research and Development Facility has finally resumed, “full speed ahead.”

He was delivering the feature address at the launch of the $87 million aluminium facility at Tamana InTech Park, Wallerfield.

Dr Rowley said the project, which is expected to become operational in the next 18 months, would contribute significantly to TT's economic diversification thrust.

However, the PM said had it not been for the former People's Partnership Government's decision to stop the project when it came into office in 2010, TT would already have been making its mark in the global aluminium sector.

“Unfortunately in TT, part of our national discourse is driven by people who make it a career of not informing themselves but being very content to mislead the public, and the public of TT was misled on our entry into the aluminium business. Because had we gone into that aluminium business then, and not shut it down foolishly for political stupidity, today we would have been an exporter of aluminium products of the highest quality,” he told the audience

“And when the oil price collapsed to $28 (per barrel), we would have been earning in the aluminium industry, because that was a different industry, and we would have been diversifying our economy.

“We did that to ourselves, and we didn't do it for free – we did it at tremendous cost in dollars and cents.”

Recalling the La Brea smelter also was shut down, “creating persistent poverty down there,” he said the Government of the day also was exposed to millions in claims.

“We exposed ourselves to hundreds of millions of dollars in claims down there. We paid millions of dollars at TGU (Trinidad Generation Unlimited) at the power plant for power we could not use, because there was no one to use it.

“And, as you come here, we are now reopening a park that has been shut down with millions in the bush here unattended.

“That is the gift of those who start off their conversation by saying, ‘I don't know, but I could tell you all about it.'”

Of the Alutech facility, Rowley said: “The Government of TT is resolute and clear-eyed in our vision for this country, and sometimes the runner stumbles, but it is not when you stumble and fall that matters, is when you get up and continue the journey. And today we are up and continuing the journey.”

However, he stressed the Alutech project should not be mistaken for a return of the La Brea smelter.

“Let me make it quite clear – because I will not be surprised or I expect it to be said after today's proceedings that we are restarting the aluminium smelter: we are not. We have lost that.”


Story by Corey Connelly from Trinidad & Tobago Newsday 10 04 2018

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