In a bid to maximizing its native mineral wealth to improve domestic infrastructure, the Ghanaian government has begun to solicit bids from investors for solutions to enhancing the country’s bauxite ore production and refining process.
Earlier this week the chief executive officer of Ghana Integrated Aluminium Corp Michael Ansah made the announcement, noting that offers would be accepted through the end of the year. At present, Ghana’s output is 1.4 million metric tons per annum, which Ansah says the government wishes to boost to a total of 5 million metric tons per annum.
In contrast to Ghana’s operations, its neighbor Guinea produced 50 million metric tons of bauxite ore last year, with fully half of it exported to the People’s Republic of China under various deals meant to improve Guinea’s own infrastructure.
The move this week in seeking bids for bauxite ore projects is the next step in a broader campaign waged by President Nana Akufo-Addo to quicken his country’s bauxite ore trade. Following up on promises of the same given throughout his campaign two years ago, Akufo-Addo hopes to use the strengthened bauxite trade to build hospitals, schools, roads, and other infrastructure.
Last year saw the Ghanaian government ink a US$2-billion deal with the Chinese government’s Sinohydro Corp to fund infrastructure improvements with the proceeds of refined bauxite sales. Among the other projects underway in the country are a US$1 billion alumina refinery and boosting the Volta Aluminium Co. smelter’s aluminium output from 200 thousand metric tons per annum to 350 thousand metric tons per annum.
Ghana sits atop a vast cache of some of the highest-quality bauxite ore ever discovered. However, political and economic problems have long thwarted efforts by both local interests and overseas buyers to establish large-scale extraction operations. More recently the country has experienced periods of labor unrest due to complaints over low wages and unsafe working conditions.