JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Ireland-based Anglo African Minerals is looking to fast-track its 43-million-ton Guinea-based bauxite project into production by 2016, telling Mining Weekly Online that production from the 338 km2 project would go some way towards filling the supply deficit resulting from the implementation of a ban on unprocessed bauxite ore exports from primary producer Indonesia earlier this year.
The company had, thus far, drilled some 68 auger holes at the Forward Africa Resources, or Far, project, in the Dubreka/Kindia prefecture, and planned to complete a scoping study by the end of November.
Additional drilling would follow in mid-November, while the company aimed to have completed a bankable feasibility study by the first quarter of next year.
“If all goes well, we plan to start construction at the end of 2015 and to have the mine producing two-million tons a year by the first quarter of 2016,” CEO James Lumley said on Monday.
He added that the project’s ability to access additional rail and port infrastructure would enable the fast-tracking of the development and would limit the project’s development costs to around $35-million.
“That's a fraction of the cost of other projects in the region that don’t have access to this infrastructure,” he outlined, adding that Anglo African was in talks with potential financiers.
The group, meanwhile, also held another three bauxite exploration licences in the West African State, which Lumley believed could increase the company’s production from Guinea to up to six-million tons a year by 2019.
This would, however, require upgrading the rail and port infrastructure, which he envisaged would likely be done through a joint venture with other developers or through a public–private partnership.
“We are already in talks in this regard,” he said.
Commenting on the market, Lumley iterated that the withdrawal of Indonesia as a bauxite supplier – which, until recently, had provided industrial giant China with some 65% of its bauxite requirements – had presented considerable opportunities for industry newcomers.
“China is actively seeking bauxite elsewhere and the producers in Australia are trying to fill this gap but won’t succeed. At the moment, there is a deficit of 15-million tons year-on-year to meet current demand.
“As a result, the prices of [bauxite products] alumina and aluminium are rising, and we’re seeing aluminium prices exceed $2 000/t – which is expected to increase. As a result, I see the free-on-board prices of bauxite at ports being maintained at a very high level,” he noted.
Lumley added that Far’s development timeline had, thus far, remained unaffected by the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea.