The government of the Republic of Guinea announced earlier this week that the People’s Republic of China’s Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chalco) will be investing US$500 million in a bauxite ore project in the country.
The Guinean government secured the deal after a visit to Beijing by Guinea’s mines minister Abdoulaye Magassouba. It is the most recent in a series of investments by China in the country.
“The reserves of bauxite abandoned by BHP Billiton will eventually be exploited from 2018 by Chalco,” explained the mines ministry’s secretary general Saadou Nimaga.
The project, which is to be carried out 125 miles northeast of Conakry at Boffa in the Boké Region, is the first in a three-phase plan that will ultimately yield primary aluminium production.
Chalco is a publicly-traded subsidiary of the state-run firm Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco). The announcement comes as Chalco reports a tenfold increase in net profit year-on-year, largely credited to the recovery of aluminium prices at the LME and SHME.
Chinalco already has a significant presence in the country thanks to, among other things, the gargantuan Simandou iron ore project, which is estimated to be among the world’s largest iron ore reserves. Chinalco bought the rights to the project from Rio Tinto after recordings surfaced that seemed to suggest that one of President Alpha Condé’s close advisors received millions from Rio Tinto in exchange for the Simandou concession.
Guinea sits atop the largest reserves of bauxite of any country on Earth, boasting reserves of up to forty billion tons. Rio Tinto and Alcoa both have substantial operations in country, as do China’s Hongqiao and Russia’s Rusal. The Middle Kingdom has been angling for increasing its presence in the Guinean bauxite market for several years, with exports from Guinea to China expected to double in the course of the current year.