Guinea bauxite miners must deliver on refinery obligations, minister says

Bauxite miners in Guinea must build refineries in the country and respect their obligations or face administrative action, Moussa Magassouba, the country’s Minister of Mines & Geology, said during a keynote speech at Fastmarkets’ Bauxite and Alumina conference in Miami, United States, on Wednesday April 27.

Magassouba expressed frustration about the lack of refineries in the country, having supported the use of infrastructure such as ports and railways to facilitate bauxite mining operations.

Now, he said, companies must deliver on their commitments and obligations. He cited 10 mining companies active in the country, none of which have built refineries there.

“Ten bauxite mining companies operate in Guinea… that one way or another have an obligation to build a refinery… [and] not a single refinery has been built,” he said. “The contractual obligation is there.”

If the lack of refineries were to continue, he said, his government “won’t hesitate to do what others did” - referring to Indonesia’s ban on bauxite exports.

The Indonesian government announced an export ban on bauxite in 2019. Its implementation was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic but it was expected to come into force by the end of this year.

The government has also introduced several incentives and policies, such as tax advantages, to support investment in the industry, as well as digitizing and simplifying the permit process under a single agency.

On March 8, mining companies were ordered to submit drafts for refinery projects by the end of May, with a 24-36 months timeframe.

Magassouba was also encouraging companies to undertake joint use of the mining infrastructure, as well as to enter partnerships that could shorten construction timeframes.

The country exports 88 million tonnes per year of bauxite, second only to Australia, and holds about two-thirds of global reserves.

Fastmarkets recently launched a consultation to start regular assessment of the cif China bauxite price, and will review its existing fob Guinea and fob Brazil bauxite price assessments.

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