Red bauxite powder mined by Guinea’s biggest producer — flowing past a mangrove swamp on a conveyor belt and plunging through a giant funnel into the Rio Tamara ship — has been the country’s steadiest source of income since it was first mined four decades ago.
The company churning out the ore — owned by Rio Tinto Plc, Alcoa Inc., Dadco Alumina & Chemicals Ltd. and the government — will also lead a new wave of investment that may spur the West African nation’s economy and more than double bauxite output, which is refined and then smelted into aluminum.
Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee’s $1 billion plan will almost double its annual production to 28.5 million metric tons within five years, Chief Executive Officer Namory Conde said. Four other developments could see a further 20 million tons added to Guinea’s annual exports.
“There’s going to be a lot more bauxite coming out of Guinea,” Conde said at CBG’s headquarters in the town of Kamsar, where the ship was being loaded. “Our quality is much better than around the world. Our deposits are easily accessible. We know that aluminum demand will grow again. We’ll have dips, but it’ll grow.”
With aluminum close to the six-year low of $1,506 a ton reached last month due to ample supply from China, cheaper prices for the metal have spurred bauxite orders. An export ban since January 2014 by Indonesia, which was the third-largest miner of the material, has seen buyers looking for alternative sources. The metal for delivery in three months rose 0.1 percent to $1,625 a ton at 1:47 p.m. in Singapore.
“There is a definite need for more bauxite capacity,” Michael Insulan, an analyst at research firm CRU Group, said by e-mail. “But with the many multi-million-ton projects out there, there is a risk of oversupply.”
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