Global bauxite production to grow: BMI

A new report issued by BMI research states that global bauxite production growth will accelerate over the coming years as new projects come online in Australia, India's production ramps up, and Indonesia re-enters the market following the end of the mineral ore export ban.

According to the firm, Indonesia is bound to become a big player as it reclaims its share of bauxite exports to China. "We forecast Indonesia's bauxite production growth to register an annual average of 24.4% during 2018-2027, compared to 77.1% over the previous ten-year period. We expect output to increase from 7.5mnt in 2018 to 43.3mnt by 2027," the report reads.

BMI says that the relaxation of the ban on bauxite exports has allowed companies to step back into the market with a stronger foot. In July 2017, the government allowed PT Dinamika Sejahtera Mandiri to export 2.4mnt of bauxite, and in September 2017 PT Laman Mining received an annual export quota of 2.9mnt of bauxite. Also, in April 2017, the Mining Ministry announced their recommendation to PT Aneka Tambang to export 2.7mnt of nickel ore and 850kt of bauxite.

Although threatened by Indonesia's comeback, Australia, the world's top producer of bauxite, is expected to hold its ground in terms of presence in the Chinese market and maintaining a steady output growth.

The report says that such growth will be supported by Rio Tinto's expansion at the Weipa mine and the new Amrun project. "In Q317, Rio Tinto reported a 4% y-o-y increase in bauxite production to 12.9mnt, driven by strong performances at the Gove and Weipa mines," BMI explains and adds that that US-based Alcoa's plans to increase bauxite export capability from its operations in Western Australia to meet rising Chinese demand will also play an important part in output growth.

Similarly, India is also expected to increase its bauxite production. The rise, which should be from 30.9mnt in 2018 to 49.7mnt by 2027, would be backed by a government ordinance that asks domestic aluminum demand to be met with local bauxite and by a predicted five-fold increase in mining lease area in Odisha.

On the no-so-positive side of things, BMI sees China's bauxite production stagnating due to deteriorating quality of reserves and a government-led initiative to consolidate the sector over the coming years. "We forecast China's bauxite output to edge higher, from 66.1mnt in 2018 to 76.9mnt by 2027, averaging 1.7% annual growth. This represents a notable slowdown compared to the previous 10-year average growth rate of 8.3%.," the document reads.