World’s top aluminum producer sees raw material supply risk in Guinea

28th March 2024 By: Bloomberg

Aluminum Corp of China said it sees “relatively high” risks to supplies of bauxite from Guinea, highlighting its growing dependence on a single country for the raw material.

The West African nation last year provided 70% of China’s imports of bauxite, which is used to produce aluminum. That’s left Chalco, as the company is known, highly exposed to disruptions there.

“The company’s bauxite mine in Guinea may experience fluctuations in supply due to local policy changes and frequent strikes,” the world’s biggest aluminum producer said in its annual results statement.

Chalco said it will try to ensure supply continuity from its single mine in Guinea, and will seek to develop more mines in the country’s north. It will also look to cooperate on bauxite projects in other places, and to develop more supplies domestically.

Guinea blew past Australia and Indonesia in the 2010s to become the biggest bauxite exporter. Most of it goes to China, where it’s processed into alumina and then aluminum metal. China’s own bauxite production has faded, while Indonesia halted exports in its push to process more minerals at home.

China might eventually have to rely on Guinea for 90% of its bauxite imports, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michelle Leung said in a note this month. It’s possible Guinea could emulate Indonesia by requiring foreign companies to build refineries locally, she said.

Chalco’s net income rose 60% to 6.72 billion yuan last year. The company warned that sluggish global economic growth and expanding geopolitical risks were creating a highly uncertain outlook for commodities. “The domestic market still faces problems such as insufficient effective demand and weak expectations.”