(Recasts with comments from Alcoa)
By Horace Helps
KINGSTON, June 13 (Reuters) - Alcoa Inc will pull out of Jamaica within two years and sell its mining interests to Noble Group Ltd, Alcoa and the Jamaican government said on Friday.
Alcoa Minerals of Jamaica (AMJ) and the Jamaican government are joint venture partners in Jamalco, a bauxite mining and alumina refining operation.
AMJ has a 55 percent stake in Jamalco, with the remaining 45 percent held by the Jamaican government through its holding company Clarendon Alumina Production Ltd (CAP). The plant is managed by Alcoa.
In a statement, New York-based Alcoa said its decision was part of a "global strategy to reshape its upstream portfolio and lower the cost base of its commodity business."
The statement said Alcoa would retain a minority interest in Jamalco and serve as its managing operator for at least two years.
Alcoa, which has been in Jamaica for 55 years, also confirmed that it has signed a non-binding letter of intent with Noble Resources UK Limited to pursue a sale of its ownership stake in AMJ.
Noble could not be reached immediately for comment.
Noble is a leading global supply chain company of agricultural and energy products, metals and minerals. It entered the Jamaica bauxite and alumina sector last year, when it agreed to provide a line of financing to CAP between 2013 and 2016 and buy alumina at improved prices, the Jamaican government said.
The government said Alcoa would continue to operate as the managing partner of Jamalco with 11 percent interest in the joint venture for at least two years, and with an opportunity to continue as a technical adviser for a further seven years.
(Editing by David Adams, Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)
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