Trinidad government sued for billions of dollars over smelter shutdown

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the government of Trinidad and Tobago has been hit with a $380million lawsuit by a group of Chinese contractors following a previous government’s decision to cancel the construction of an aluminum smelter in 2010.

Rowley, speaking at a constituency conference of his ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) party, said the People’s Partnership government led by Kamla Persad Bissessar had “wrongly stopped the project”.

Patrick Manning’s government at the time decided to build the aluminum smelter, but Rowley told his supporters that “some people who were comfortable where they were and didn’t care who would find a job, resisted saying that the foundry would kill us”.

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He said Bahrain, which is the same size as Trinidad and Tobago, is one of the world’s leading producers of aluminum and earns money and lives by one of the highest standards in the world, selling the same aluminum as the inhabitants of the twin island republic. opposed it and said he would kill citizens.

Environmentalist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh had staged a hunger strike outside the Prime Minister’s Office in a bid to shut down the factory, and in October 2017 Prime Minister Rowley told Parliament’s Standing Finance Committee that the State had processed various claims. against it following the last government’s decision to put an end to the smelting plant project.

“There is a settlement regarding the closure of the project, where the minority partner would have had claims against the state,” he said then, adding “”this is not the end. We are in talks with the Chinese government regarding the settlement of another claim regarding the closure and abandonment of the smelter project, which is for a much larger sum.”

Rowley told the PNM meeting that when the Persad Bissessar-led government took office in 2010, it shut down the factory and “chased out” the contractor.

“I’m talking about US$380 million here with documents and a contractor who says T&T owes this money for work or for circumstances where there is a contract to pursue. And it’s up to the PNM to deal with it, because we’re dealing with it now. And when the time is right, we will approach Parliament and give full details about it,” the prime minister said.

Alutrint and China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corp signed an agreement in 2005 to build a $540 million aluminum complex that would have produced 125,000 tons per year. Alutrint was a joint venture between NGC and Venezuela’s Sural Group. The deal included several downstream projects that would use the production, including an auto parts and car wheel plant, a bar rolling mill, and wire and cable plants.