State-run smelter Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) announced yesterday the start of construction at its Boffa bauxite project in Guinea.
Reuters reported Monday that the company released a statement saying that a groundbreaking ceremony took place this weekend at the site. No further details were available at press time.
Earlier this year Chalco said production at the mine was slated for the end of 2019, with the initial phase consisting of production of 12 million metric tons of bauxite ore per year. The US$164 million project sits atop an estimated 736 million metric tons of bauxite reserves.
Chalco says the project is merely a portion of the US$706 million it expects to eventually invest at the site. Improvements slated for the mine include construction of mining, port, and transportation facilities, among others.
Guinea has been a hotbed of activity in recent months and years, as major aluminium firms have been angling to carve out a piece of the estimated 7.4 billion metric tons of bauxite ore, which is approximately a quarter of the world’s total known resources. Companies from the United States, the Russian Federation, and the People’s Republic of China have all sought concessions in the west African nation.
Though sitting atop a vast mountain of mineral wealth, Guinea has been unable to capitalize on it due to political and economic instability and a lack of infrastructure and technology. Riots and political corruption has taken its toll upon existing operations as well, with significant and expensive work stoppages happening as recently as earlier this year.
Chalco is no stranger to the Guinean mining scene, as it has had a presence there since 2012. The firm has been a partner with Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto at the Simandou iron ore project, in which it currently holds a 40-percent stake at present.
Chalco is among China’s top alumina refiners, as it reported a company-wide refining capacity of 16.86 million metric tons in its 2017 year-end report.