Guinea’s SMB to invest up to $1 billion to boost bauxite exports

Bauxite mining in Guinea. Credit: Wirtgen Group

Guinea’s leading bauxite producer and exporter Societe Miniere de Boke (CMB) will invest up to $1 billion over the next five years to upgrade its river terminals and buy vessels, its CEO said on Monday, to boost exports that hit a record in 2023.

“We can expect to increase exports by 10 million (metric tons) a year, starting at the end of this year,” Frederic Bouzigues, CEO at SMB told Reuters on the sidelines of an African mining conference.

Last year the company produced and exported a record 48 million tons of bauxite ore, helping the West African country, ranked among the world’s top producers, to increase output six-fold to 126 million tons in total. A decade ago Guinea’s total bauxite output was in the region of 20 million tons.

Bauxite ore is refined to make alumina used in aluminum products needed for the energy transition that has focused global attention and investment on critical metals in Africa.

The extension of capacity at Dapilon river terminal will entail fully automatic barge loading, a larger barge fleet as well as more Cape-size vessels. The barges use the river to transport ore to ships anchored in deeper sea waters.

“We have 50 Cape-size in house so we intend to have 10 more Cape-size,” he said, adding the infrastructure upgrade costs could range between $500 to $1 billion over the next five years.

The ore is exclusively sold to SMB’s Chinese shareholder, Shandong Weiqiao, he said, adding SMB would look to cooperate with other bauxite producers in the region.

“The European Union has officially declared aluminium as a critical material … so because of that, demand will increase,” Ismael Diakite, chief representative of the SMB-Winning Consortium, said at the same meeting.

The SMB-Winning consortium is separately developing the massive Simandou iron ore deposit through a new company, Winning Consortium Simandou.

(By Wendell Roelf; Editing by Barbara Lewis)


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