Following a decline in global bauxite production in 2018, consultancy company Fitch Solutions says global bauxite production this year is being driven by new projects coming on line in Guinea and Australia, as well as a ramp-up in production in India and Indonesia.
Australia holds 12 of the 29 new bauxite projects in Fitch’s mines database, which is more than any other country. Fitch forecasts Australian bauxite production to grow by 15% this year, compared with 4% in 2018.
“While bauxite accounts for less than 5% of Australian mining value, the country is the global top producer, accounting for an estimated 28.8% of total global
output as of 2018. Australia will remain a top bauxite exporter to China, although the country may lose some market share over the coming quarters to returning Indonesian supply,” says Fitch.
Indonesia’s bauxite production picked up after the country ended the ban on mineral ore exports, which was implemented in 2014, two years ago. The country is starting to reclaim its share of bauxite exports to China, supported by its closer proximity to and lower-cost production than Australia or Guinea.
Fitch quotes Bloomberg data, which indicates that Indonesian bauxite production increased by about 533% year-on-year from January 2018 to August 2018.
Fitch forecasts Indonesia’s bauxite production growth to register a yearly average growth rate of 8.1% between 2019 and 2028.
“We forecast input in the country to increase from 6.5-million tonnes this year to 11.6-million tonnes by 2029.
Further, according to Fitch, China will see subdued bauxite production growth going ahead, owing to the deteriorating quality of reserves and a government-led initiative to consolidate the sector in a bid to reduce pollution levels over the coming years.
The company forecasts China’s bauxite output to head gradually higher from 70.1-million tonnes this year to 81.2-million tonnes by 2028, averaging 1.6% average yearly growth.
“This represents a notable slowdown compared with the previous ten-year average growth rate of 6.5%.”
Fitch also predicts that India’s bauxite production will grow to serve growing demand from the domestic aluminium industry, supported by government ordinance. In February 2018, the Odisha state Cabinet approved a long-term bauxite linkage policy that will help alumina refineries.
Fitch says the country’s bauxite production should grow from 35.5-million tonnes this year to 50.7-million tonnes by 2028. However, tightening environmental regulations and tribal tensions pose downside risks and could lead to a delay of new projects.
Meanwhile, Guinea holds the second-largest number of new bauxite projects – seven. Fitch anticipates Guinea’s bauxite production will growth from 59-million tonnes in 2018 to 82.3-million tonnes by 2028.