Guinea Goes From Zero to Hero for World’s Top Aluminum Maker (Bloomberg News – September 9, 2016)

Guinea will pass Australia to become China’s main source of bauxite next year as the world’s biggest aluminum maker boosts imports of the raw material from the West African nation that supplied almost nothing just two years ago.

Shipments from Guinea to China will reach as much as 13 million metric tons this year, up from just 300,000 tons in 2015 and negligible volumes in 2014, according to Ron Knapp, secretary general of the International Aluminum Institute.

That will take Guinea past Malaysia to become the number two supplier, and shipments will advance in 2017 to beat Australia, Knapp said Thursday in an interview at an industry conference in Shanghai. He didn’t give specific volume forecasts for 2017.

“Guinea has a medium- and long-term role in world bauxite supplies,” Knapp said during a presentation at the conference. The world will need between 45-and-50 million tons of extra annual bauxite supply by 2020, and “the arrival of Guinea bauxite in the Asian region will help determine market boundaries for other entrants,” he said.

China accounted for 55 percent of world aluminum output last year, up from 25 percent a decade earlier, and its top producer China Hongqiao Group Ltd. is now the world’s biggest maker of the metal.

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