Ivorian miner seeks $375m bauxite venture with Sumitomo

(Bloomberg) — Lagune Exploitation Afrique in Ivory Coast said it is in talks with a unit of Sumitomo Corp. about a partnership for the development of a bauxite deposit and the construction of two alumina plants for 218 billion CFA francs ($375 million).

Lagune Exploitation is developing the 34.5 million metric tons Benene deposit in the country’s east that will produce 750,000 tons of the alumina-making ingredient and 350,000 tons of calcinated metal in a year, Chief Executive Officer Moumouni Bictogo said Monday in an interview in the West African nation’s commercial capital, Abidjan. The company is also planning to build the two plants by 2025, he said.

Lagune is offering a 25 percent stake in the company, Bictogo said, declining to comment further on the nature of the talks with Sumitomo Corp. Africa (Pty) Ltd. Masafumi Tanimoto, general manager at Sumitomo’s liaison office for West Africa, declined to comment when requested at a function on Monday in Abidjan.

Bauxite producers in Ivory Coast are ramping up production as China’s demand for aluminum is seen rising by almost half. Neighboring Guinea is now China’s largest supplier of bauxite after overtaking Australia in 2017, shipping about 40 percent of total imports.

(Written by Baudelaire Mieu)