Rusal of Russia has reported that its bauxite production increased to 8.07Mt in H1 2019, a rise of almost 1.8Mt on the same period during 2018 when production stood at 6.28Mt. Much of the extra production came from the Dian-Dian operation in Guinea, West Africa, where production increased to 1.71Mt in H1 2019 from just 87kt in H1 2018. Rusal’s alumina production also increased slightly to 3.85Mt in H1 2019, up from 3.82Mt in the same period of the previous year.
Rusal began shipping bauxite from its 3Mtpy capacity Dian-Dian bauxite project in the Boké region of Guinea in June 2018 following completion of the first stage of the project. The company also reopened its Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea in mid-2018, which had previously been shut since 2012. The complex is reported to have 0.65Mtpy of capacity for alumina and 2.1Mtpy for bauxite.
Rusal has been operating in the Republic of Guinea since 2001 and is one of the largest foreign investors in the country where it owns and operates the 3.2Mtpy capacity Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK) bauxite operation. Guinea accounts for a significant amount of Rusal’s bauxite production, accounting for more than a quarter (an estimated 3.1Mt) in 2017 prior to the new operations starting up. Bauxite is subsequently refined into alumina and then smelted into aluminium and Rusal is the world’s largest aluminium producer outside of China.
Rusal’s alumina sales were limited to some extent following sanctions imposed by the US Treasury from 6 April 2018 on Rusal and other businesses linked to Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska. Sanctions were revoked on 27 January 2019 and Rusal reported a return of sales back to normal levels through Q1 2019. While the sanctions against Rusal caused anxiety in the overall alumina market, the company’s involvement with supply to non-metallurgical applications outside of Russia is limited.
Material from Dian-Dian is supplied to Rusal’s alumina refineries worldwide. Exports from the operation began, despite US sanctions; at the time, FastMarkets reported that ‘its agreement with Guinea required it to do so and also because all investments into the project were made before the sanctions were imposed’.
Roskill’s NEW report Non-metallurgical Bauxite & Alumina: Outlook to 2029, 10th edition is due for publication in August 2019. Click here to download the brochure and sample pages, or to access further information.