GUINEA’S BAUXITE MINING SECTOR: TRANSFORMATIONAL OR TRANSITORY?
AN OUTLOOK TO 2025
The combination of abundant high-grade resources, strong demand growth from China and a more practical mining code, developed to be more supportive of exports, has led Guinea to become fertile ground for development of a new generation of bauxite mining and export projects.
Despite the country’s sometimes turbulent history, growing export volumes support a view that Guinea has finally turned the corner and stands to consolidate its current position as the preferred long-term, high-volume, low-cost supplier of bauxite to the growing global, and particularly Chinese, market.
Several issues, however, such as the government of Guinea expropriating existing concession holders, industrial disputes arising from rapid growth, and environmental damage caused by mining companies, all have the potential to significantly disrupt what could become the lifeblood of China’s bauxite supply chain for decades to come.
This report brings together a first-hand view on the ground in Guinea and a detailed outlook for the global bauxite market, especially in China, to form a view on the outlook for Guinea’s bauxite mining industry over the next seven years, including a detailed assessment of new projects, industry cost structure and infrastructure developments, all of which will play a pivotal role in determining the future of the industry.
CM is an independent, privately owned, commodity advisory group, specialising across a range of non-ferrous industries, particularly the global bauxite, alumina and primary aluminium sectors. Our core capability is to conduct detailed, bottom-up, single-scope industry and project assessments, aimed at generating informed, insightful market views and industry outlooks.
CM sets the benchmark in global bauxite industry analysis. Our databases, analytical frameworks and market outlook capabilities have been refined over decades of intense industry analysis. Our hypotheses and our insights are used, and tested, regularly by the world’s leading mining, project management and investment companies. CM has a strong capability, and presence, in China, employing 10 FTEs who collect and analyse bauxite and alumina industry data every day. Our local knowledge and strong ‘guanxi’ (network) across the entire global Al community position us as a world authority on the Al supply chain.
CM is also the developer of the CBIX ViU-adjusted bauxite price index (published at thebauxiteindex.com). The company has the proven capability to acquire and analyse critical bauxite market data and intelligence, not only to keep its clients fully informed on prices, volumes, qualities, inventories and other critical industry data, but also to generate ViU-adjusted bauxite price forecasts.
FOR THE GLOBAL SCANDIUM MARKET TO 2028
Scandium in the earth’s crust is as common as cobalt, and more common than both lithium and lead. However, it is evenly dispersed and rarely occurs in deposits with any significant concentration. Consequently, scandium has been expensive to mine and purify. Its high cost has been a major deterrent to the metal being used directly in applications requiring significant volumes, despite the clear advantages it brings.
Scandium is a highly effective alloying element for aluminium; small additions (0.1- 0.2%) can result in major improvements in overall performance and properties, including strength, corrosion, weldability, ductility, anodization performance and fatigue resistance. No other alloying element(s) gives the same level of multiple property improvements in such a diverse range of alloy systems as scandium.
Rapid growth in Chinese scandia (scandium oxide) production capacity over the past four years has resulted in the global market moving into significant surplus, a situation which, in theory, should stimulate a strong demand response, especially from the aluminium sector. So far, the Al-Sc sector has been slow to respond, but is this likely to continue to be the case?
A key enabler for the sector, we believe, is a close developmental relationship between new supply and downstream markets which, together, could grow the market at a rate more closely aligned with higher uptake rates.
The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) market is currently the largest market for scandia, representing an estimated 76% in 2018. SOFC growth, has been consistently strong and could achieve more than 20% annual growth over the outlook period.
On the supply side, the emergence of a new generation of primary scandia production projects looks set to become an industry game changer. In our view, these new production facilities will remove a critical supply barrier, by offering scandia under long-term supply contracts and at volumes and prices which could prove compelling to the market. Primary mine development proposals in Australia have significantly higher concentrations of scandium, up to 500ppm, and thus could potentially lower production costs by a significant margin. Could this new supply base lead to the emergence new markets and significantly stronger demand over the long-term?
First-mover advantage, we believe, is a critical competitive edge in the early stages, particularly in terms of market development, leading to offtake agreements, funding and, as a result, further growth?
This report investigates the outlook for the scandium market to 2028, concentrating on both the supply and demand outlook, especially the potential for the metal to become widely used in large volume applications, such as SOFCs and Al-Sc alloys in heat exchangers (HEX).