AluNews

Better Bottom Line, Steady Production Reflected in Alcoa’s Q1 Numbers

Aluminium Insider - April 25th, 2017

Alcoa mined 11.1 thousand metric tons of bauxite ore in the quarter, roughly equivalent to previous quarters. Alumina production was stable as well, totaling 3,211 thousand metric tons. Primary aluminium production was off in the quarter, totaling 559 thousand metric tons, down from a fourth-quarter total of 587 thousand metric tons, and down from last year’s first-quarter total of 600 thousand metric tons.

“Alcoa is off to a strong start with our first full quarter as an independent company,” said Alcoa’s Chief Executive Officer Roy Harvey. “In our Bauxite segment, our third-party business remained strong and we continued to grow profits, while our Alumina and Aluminum segments captured the benefits of improved market pricing to increase earnings substantially.”

Altech’s Malaysian High-Purity Alumina Plant Sticking to Construction Schedule

Aluminium Insider - April 24th, 2017

Altech Chemicals Ltd. issued an update today on the progress of its high-purity alumina (HPA) plant to be built in Johor, Malaysia.

According to the press release, design and engineering of the plant is progressing according to schedule. The project’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor M+W Group has over four dozen individuals from its Singapore and Germany offices working on the project – process engineering equipment and piping design is being conducted in the latter location, while the remaining engineering tasks are being carried out in the former.

The German office has issued the lion’s share of the necessary bills of quantities and supply packages to the relevant suppliers, and the Singapore office has completed delivery of such packages and has received quotes from most of its suppliers.

In addition, Singapore has completed electrical design plans, sent out packages to suppliers regarding instrumentation and process control designs, and is currently working up installation packages for CSA, piping, electrical, mechanical, instruments, and building and site services.

Altech reports that the kilns and the hydrogen chloride recycle plant have both seen size increases and quality upgrades in order to achieve more consistent temperatures and performances.

“Overall, the detailed design, engineering and associated final EPC contract price formation is progressing at the required rate to align with the German government export credit agency project finance cover application and approval processes,” said Iggy Tan, Altech’s managing director. “Altech continues to fund all detailed design and engineering activities in order to expedite project development.”

Altech Chemicals is based in Subiaco, Western Australia and is attempting to develop a marketable process for delivering 99.99% (4N) HPA. It plans to construct a 4,000 metric ton per annum HPA plant at Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex, Johor, Malaysia. The firm is fast-tracking HPA production due to an agreement with Mitsubishi for 100% of its proposed HPA production for ten years. At present, Altech intends to commence project development in the third quarter of this year.

Rusal’s Q1 Production Numbers Follow Previous Quarter’s Lead

Aluminium Insider - April 24th, 2017

Russian Federation aluminium titan U.C. Rusal released operating results for the first quarter of 2017 earlier today. Aluminium and bauxite production numbers were down slightly in the quarter, while bauxite production showed a marginal increase.

Rusal’s smelters ran at a 95% utilization rate and turned out 910 thousand metric tons of primary aluminium in the quarter, off by 2.1% from the previous quarter. Production was led by the firm’s Siberian smelters, who accounted for all but 6% of production. Rusal chalks up the marginal fall in production to the fact that the first quarter had two fewer days than the quarter prior.

The first-quarter average aluminium realized price came to US$1,949 per ton, an 8.3% increase over fourth quarter numbers from last year. A 9% increase quarter-on-quarter of aluminium at the London Metal Exchange and a 1.4% realized premium growth to US$153 per ton buoyed the average aluminium realized price in the quarter.

The firm sold 985 thousand metric tons in the quarter, an increase of 6.8% quarter-on-quarter. That number includes 436 thousand metric tons of value-added products, an increase in that department of 7.8% over the preceding quarter. Rusal credits leftover inventory from the quarter before for the increase in sales.

Alumina production was slightly off in the just-ended quarter, totaling 1,889 thousand metric tons, which was 2.6% lower than the previous period. Operations in Russia accounted for over one-third of the quarter’s total output, which ran largely true to projections. Refineries at Achinsk and Urals boosted production, largely offsetting seasonal repairs carried out at Windalco, Auginish, and Bogoslovsk.

Rusal harvested 2,869 thousand metric tons of bauxite ore in the quarter, which was a 1% increase over the prior quarter. The Bauxite Company of Guyana led the production charge that quarter by posting a 13.2% increase quarter-on-quarter.

Rusal plans to expand Boguchansk smelter capacity by end of 2018 - prospectus

Reuters Africa - April 24th, 2017

Russian aluminium giant Rusal plans to finish expanding the capacity of its Boguchansk smelter in Siberia by the end of 2018, it said in a prospectus for a Eurobond issue, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Rusal plans to expand its production capacity to 298,000 tonnes per year from 149,000 tonnes. (Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

India’s Domestic Aluminium Demand to Outpace GDP: Nalco’s Chand

Aluminium Insider - April 22nd, 2017

In an interview with domestic media, the Chairman and Managing Director of India’s National Aluminium Company (NALCO) predicted that the company’s gains in the coming months and years are likely to come from the infrastructure, power transmission, and construction sectors.

Dr. Tapan Kumar Chand told the India Times that Nalco is preparing to boost output of bauxite ore, alumina, and aluminium over the course of the coming fiscal year.

“We have targeted a 10% increase in the smelter output at 0.44 million tonnes in 2017-18, compared with 0.38 mt in 2016-17,” said Chand. “It will amount to 96-97% of our smelter capacity of 0.46 mt. We are also looking at 100% capacity utilisation in bauxite mining at 6.82 mt and full capacity in alumina production of 2.1 mt.”

Chand continued by saying that the rising tide in the global aluminium market has done a great deal to rise Nalco’s boat.

Matalco to Increase Remelted Aluminium Billet Output at Lordstown Plant by More Than Double

Aluminium Insider - April 21st, 2017

Ontario’s Matalco Inc. is on pace to double its output of remelted aluminium billet at its new plant in Lordstown, Ohio according to an official at the firm who spoke to S&P Global Platts recently.

The unnamed official said that the plant, which began production in March 2016, is expected to finish the year with an aluminium billet production total of 200 million pounds, which is over twice the plant’s total output last year of 90 million pounds.

“The market is very strong,” revealed the official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We have several customers saying their order books were full.”

The plant produces 6000 series extrusion-grade billet intended for automotive, building, and construction. At an initial construction cost of US$100 million and a total square footage of 225,000 ft2, the Ohio plant represents Matalco’s largest single investment.

In addition to 6000-series billet, “we’re also producing some billet for the forging market,” explained the unnamed official.

The current year is the second of three years in which the Ohio plant is slated to increase production. The target production level by the end of 2018 is 350 million pounds of billet per year. When taken in concert with Matalco’s two other facilities in Ohio, the anticipated total billet production is expected to top 700 million pounds per annum.

“Actually, in the industry, we’re off to a good start,” opined the unnamed official. “Everything we’re selling right now is being sold in the North American market.”

Potash Ridge Corp. releases prefeasibility technical report

World Fertilizer Magazine - April 21st, 2017

Potash Ridge Corp. has released an update to the independent NI 43-101 Prefeasibility Technical Report (the January 2017 PFS) for the company’s Blawn Mountain Project in Utah, dated 18 January 2017.

The January 2017 PFS assumed the production of 232 000 tpy of potassium sulfate together with a by-product sulfuric acid from 153.3 million t of proven and probable alunite reserves. Alumina-rich material was assumed to go into tailings.

This updated NI 43-101 Prefeasibility Technical Report (the April 2017 PFS) includes Resources for the alumina from alunite contained in the tailings and was prepared by Millcreek Mining Group and Resource Development Inc.

Based on the April 2017 PFS, Blawn Mountain contains 19.4 million t of measured and indicated alumina Resources contained in the alunite ore.

The United States Geological Survey reports that in 2015 bauxite, which is 50% alumina and 50% other materials, sold for US$28/t in the United States, while processed alumina sold for US$410/t.

Alumina contained in the alunite ore is presently not considered a Reserve. The above table presents the Measured and Indicated alumina Resources contained within the alunite ore that will be used to produce SOP and sulfuric acid. The resources shown above exclude alumina (Al2O3) contained in non-alunite material that will be mined as part of extracting the alunite for processing, and which will be included in tailings.

Following the release of the January 2017 PFS, several parties approached the Corporation to explore potential applications for the alumina-rich residue material, including as a binding agent in the production of concrete, a raw material for the production of aluminium with a much smaller environmental footprint than bauxite, and other industrial applications. Commercial discussions are currently aimed at determining the optimal product mix.

Based on the mine plan in the April 2017 PFS, 19.4 million t of pure alumina will be placed in the tailings over the 46-year project life, representing approximately 420 000 tpy of pure alumina from alunite going into the tailings.

Based on the recommendations from the April 2017 PFS, Potash Ridge intends to undertake additional metallurgical testing to determine the most economic means to extract alumina from the residual waste material.

"Blawn Mountain is already a world-class SOP fertilizer project, with a long project life and very low operating costs," stated Guy Bentinck, CEO. "The realisation of market demand for the alumina contained in our tailings provides tremendous value upside potential and diversity to our revenue stream."

Chinese Government Suspends 2 MMT of Aluminium Capacity in Xinjiang

Aluminium Insider - April 18th, 2017

Three aluminium operations in the People’s Republic of China with a combined nameplate capacity of two million metric tons now stand idle after the government determined that the firms operating them have been violating regulations put in place to limit capacity.

According to a report in the state-run China Security Times on Sunday that was reported to the West by Reuters, the website for Changji county’s government indicated that smelters run by Xinjiang East Hope Ferrous Metals Co. Ltd., Xinjiang Qiya Energy Aluminium Electric Co. Ltd., and Xinjiang Jiarun Resources Co. Ltd. were shut down as of April 14. The reports did not identify the specific infractions, and representatives for the three companies were not available for comment on the situation by the time the Reuters report went to press.

The newspaper went on to report that China had 7.4 million metric tons of new aluminium capacity being built at the close of last year. Once completed, China’s total capacity will be 46 million metric tons according to the report.

Fraud Claims Plague Metal Giant

April 16th, 2017

The world’s biggest aluminum producer is in trouble, locked in a feud with its accountant over fraud allegations that have forced it to suspend trading of its shares and seek help from the central government in Beijing.

China Hongqiao Group Ltd., has drawn the attention of the global aluminum market and U.S. trade officials as it soared to the pinnacle of the industry in the past few years, leapfrogging the production of giant rivals such as Alcoa Corp. in the U.S. and United Co. Rusal PLC in Russia.

Its rise coincided with American allegations that Chinese companies—helped by government subsidies— flooded the world with cheap aluminum, coal and steel, depressed prices and decimated U.S. industries. U.S.-Chinese trade issues were a focus of a two-day summit last week between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping of China.

Now, China Hongqiao, a Hong Kong-listed company that employs nearly 60,000 people, is facing fraud allegations from two short sellers that the firm says threaten its financial stability. Short sellers hope to profit from a decline in a company’s share price.

Trouble for Hongqiao could upend the aluminum industry in China and present an opportunity for American producers, who say the company has been using unfair tactics to dominate the industry. It could also reinforce the broader concerns over what many view as questionable business practices by China’s big industrial giants, many of which are increasingly active on the global stage.

China Hongqiao declined to comment.

In a March 4 letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, China Hongqiao sought assistance from a trade group, the Chinese Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association, or CNIA, saying the short sellers’ claims of inflated profits were forcing the company’s accountant, Ernst & Young, “to adopt an extremely conservative and careful attitude.”

Then, on March 6, Ernst & Young notified the company it had suspended its audit of its 2016 financial results, according to a March 31 statement by China Hongqiao. Ernst & Young asked the company to commission an independent investigation into the short sellers’ claims, delaying the release of the company’s annual financial results, China Hongqiao said.

Without audited results, China Hongqiao said in its letter to CNIA, the company risks an investigation from Hong Kong securities regulators and a credit crunch. The company has about $10 billion in debt, according to securities filings. It could be in default on a $700 million loan unless it gets waivers from creditors, says S& P Global Ratings. S& P, citing the move by Ernst & Young, has downgraded China Hongqiao’s bonds a notch deeper into junk territory to Bplus. In its March 31 statement, China Hongqiao denied the short sellers’ fraud allegations, calling them “untrue and unfounded.” Ernst & Young declined to comment.

China Hongqiao asked the CNIA and the Chinese government to come to its aid, warning in its March 4 letter of “serious effects” if nothing is done, including “regional systemic financial risks” and “dramatic social unrest.”

It isn’t clear whether the government or regulators will step in. The CNIA, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which over- sees China’s industrial policies, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The events are “very embarrassing for the Chinese and for Hongqiao,” said Paul Adkins, managing director of AZ China Ltd., a Hong Kong consultancy that tracks the Chinese aluminum industry.

China Hongqiao’s production capacity has almost quadrupled to 6.7 million metric tons since 2011, according to commodity researcher CRU Group. Rusal can produce 4.1 million tons a year, Alcoa up to 3.4 million tons of aluminum a year, CRU says.

China’s aluminum output reached an estimated 31 million tons in 2016, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, more than half of global output and up 60% since 2011. That is the year China Hongqiao went public, raising $817 million. China Hongqiao’s founder, Zhang Shiping, holds an 81% stake in the company valued at $5.3 billion, according to FactSet.

The U.S. government in January launched a formal complaint against the Chinese government with the World Trade Organization, accusing China of funneling artificially cheap loans from state-run banks to aluminum producers, including China Hongqiao. China provides China Hongqiao with access to cheap coal, aluminum and electricity, according to the WTO complaint.

China’s Ministry of Commerce denied the subsidies alleged by the WTO are provided to the industry.

Questions about China Hongqiao’s finances were raised in November, when an anonymous short seller wrote on a website called Hongqiao Exposed that the company’s profits are “too good to be true.” China Hongqiao in the March 31 statement called the report “untrue and unfounded.”

On Feb. 28, more allegations emerged in a 46-page report by Emerson Analytics, a trading firm that says it focuses on Chinese stock-market fraud. Emerson accused China Hongqiao of “abnormally high” profits generated by underreporting production costs and disclosing electricity expenses as much as 40% below their true cost. China Hongqiao in the March 31 statement denied the report’s allegations. Emerson declined to comment.

China Hongqiao has been more profitable than some Chinese competitors.

“People were always skeptical about how they managed to be more profitable than their peers,” said Sandra Chow, a credit analyst at CreditSights .

China Hongqiao’s rapid rise in capacity has coincided with U.S. allegations that Chinese firms are flooding world commodity markets. Above, a China Hongqiao Group factory in Zouping, China.

Guyanese Government Reassessing Once-Thriving Bauxite Industry

Aluminium Insider - April 16th, 2017

The government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana is expecting the imminent delivery of a report detailing the state of the country’s bauxite industry.

“We are currently reviewing the industry to see where our reserves are and the future of the industry,” explained Guyana’s Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman.

The report, which comes at the centenary of Guyana’s bauxite trade, will provide valuable information to the government regarding potential expansion of the industry. At present, the bauxite industry is dominated by two players – Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc. and U.C. Rusal.

Trotman indicated that the review also “includes a decision as to whether or not we should have another alumina plant in the country.”

He went on to say that the review, which is being conducted by industry veterans Lance Carberry and Sylvester Carmichael, is expected to be delivered by the conclusion of next month.

According to Trotman, the Guyanese government is currently contemplating powering a potential new refinery with newly-discovered natural gas in addition to liquid petroleum derivatives.

The global decline in bauxite demand prompted the Georgetown government to commission a top-to-bottom review of the industry. In addition, the review is the product of a promise made by Guyana’s President David Granger to flesh out plans for the sector’s future.

Although Guyana rests atop substantial bauxite reserves, economic and political turbulence in the 1980s took a serious toll on the industry, halving yearly exports of calcined bauxite ore from 600 thousand metric tons.

Domestic Bauxite and Alumina Industry to Add Over 1,000 New Jobs in 2017: Jamaican Minister Henry

Aluminium Insider - April 15th, 2017

Growth in the bauxite and alumina trades will have added over one thousand new jobs to the Jamaican economy by year’s end according to the country’s Minister of Transport and Works.

Minister Mike Henry made the revelation in the course of remarks at Thursday’s 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives. He went on to say that St. Elizabeth’s Alpart refinery will require 250 Jamaicans to fill that number of temporary workers from the People’s Republic of China when they return to their country in June. The Jamaicans hired for those openings will be trained by the operating firm Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company Limited (JISCO), he explained.

In addition to the positions vacated by those temporary workers, fifty flights of young Jamaican workers are slated for training by JISCO to fill positions at the plant, which is scheduled to begin production during the latter half of the current year.

The plant is being rehabilitated in preparation for opening at present. The task, which initially required eighty permanent employees, now gainfully employs five hundred Jamaicans.

Henry told the legislative body that more projects related to the plant remain to be undertaken, including an upgrade of Alpart’s Port Kaiser facility. Such projects will require more Jamaican manpower as well, he said.

“They are going to build the second factory, to move to a 2,000-tonne (capacity) alumina refinery, all with attendant employment for another 500 permanent jobs,” said Henry.

He continued by saying that the expansion of Jamalco’s refinery in Clarendon will likely employ between 200 and 300 additional Jamaicans. The construction of a 120-mW plant is in the offing as well, he said, and is to be built by American firm New Fortress Energy. The plant, which is to operate using liquefied natural gas (LNG) “will dramatically increase profitability of the operations.”

Finnish Firm Outotec to Build Anode Rodding Shop for Aluminium Bahrain

Aluminium Insider - April 14th, 2017

Finnish mining operations and technology firm Outotec announced on Thursday that it has signed a contract with Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. to design and deliver an anode rodding shop facility for the firm’s smelter-expansion project.

Outotec declined to offer a price for the contract, but it did point out the fact that it is the largest order the firm has landed in nearly two years, and will be reflected on the company’s order intake for the opening quarter of 2017.

The company has agreed to building a fully-equipped anode rodding shop and a bath and butts material recycling facility. It will also conduct process engineering, delivery of proprietary and non-proprietary equipment, procurement, and construction. Outotech claims that, once the facility is fully operational, it will be the most modern rodding shop on Earth.

“This order from ALBA further strengthens our reputation as a provider of high capacity rodding shops for the needs of increasingly large aluminium smelters,” explained Kalle Härkki, President – Metals, Energy & Water business unit. “When delivering the entire rodding shop facility for ALBA’s expansion project, we will ensure a high operational efficiency for our customer.”

The shop is part of Alba’s project to expand capacity from 971 thousand metric tons per annum to 1.5 million metric tons per annum. The new capacity is slated to come online in January 2019.

Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C., or simply Alba, is one of the largest industrial companies in the Middle East and is one of the top 10 largest aluminium producers in the world. Originally incorporated in 1968, the company is based in Bahrain and 87% of its total workforce are Bahraini nationals. It began operations in 1971 with a 120,000 metric ton annual capacity. Modernization bumped the output up to 450,000 metric tons in 1992. In the spring of 2005, Alba opened Line 5, raising output by 860,000 metric tons per year. Maximum output for the smelter is in the neighborhood of 1.2 million metric tons per year.

Vedanta Sets Aluminium Production Records in Fourth Quarter and Full Year of Fiscal 2017

Aluminium Insider - April 12th, 2017

London-based metals firm Vedanta Resources plc released numbers for the fourth quarter and full year of fiscal 2017 yesterday, boasting of record annual production levels in primary aluminium, among other products.

Vedanta’s total aluminium production for the fourth quarter came to 353 thousand metric tons, a 56% increase year-on-year over the previous Q4’s total of 226 thousand metric tons, and an 11% increase quarter-on-quarter over Q3’s total of 319 thousand metric tons. The quarter’s total set a production record and was propelled mainly by ramp-ups at Jharsuguda-II and Balco-II, which were both recovering from pot outages earlier in the year.

Stabilized production (excluding test runs) came to 307 thousand metric tons in the quarter, arriving at a run rate of 1.4 million metric tons, with a 1.2-million-metric-ton stabilized run rate.

Aluminium production for the year totaled 1,213 thousand metric tons, a 31% increase year-on-year over FY 2016’s total of 923 thousand metric tons. The year’s total was also a production record for the firm.

Alumina production for the year totaled 1.21 million metric tons, a 24% increase year-on-year, bolstered by the second stream of production coming online on April 1.

Nalco set to join one million tonne aluminium club in 3 yrs

Business Standard - April 10th, 2017

National Aluminium Company (Nalco) is all set to join the club of one million tonne aluminium producers by 2020.

Among the major aluminium producers in the country, Hindalco and Vedanta have metal capacities of over one million tonne.

Nalco's aluminium smelter at Angul can now produce optimum of 0.46 million tonne per annum. The company plans to put up a new pot line to its existing facilities which will boost the aluminium making capacity to over one million tonne.

"A fifth pot line with capacity to produce 0.6 million tonnes of aluminium will be added to the existing four aluminium smelting pot lines at Angul. The cost of the project is pegged at Rs 12,000 crore. Though normally, such work would take 3.5 to 4 years to complete, we are trying to complete it within 3 years", said a top official of Nalco.

Meanwhile, the company's bauxite mining and alumina refinery facilities, nestled in forested and naxal infested areas, has posted sterling performance in 2016-17 overcoming the issues relating to locational and technical handicaps. Nalco's mines in Panchpatmali hills, which were the target of naxal attack few years back, produced record 6.825 million tonne bauxite equalling the rated capacity. Similarly, the alumina refinery at Damanjodi operated at 100 per cent capacity for the first time since inception producing 2.1 million tonnes of alumina.

Alba reports strong sales, production volume in Q1 2017

Bahrain News Agency - April 5th, 2017

Manama, Apr. 5 (BNA): Alba has reported production and sales results for the first quarter of 2017. Aluminium Bahrain started 2017 with strong sales and production volume registering an increase of 4.9% and 5.6% YoY respectively.

Sales volume in the first quarter of 2017 totalled 242,932 tonnes compared to 231,538 tonnes in Q1 2016 while production volume totalled 248,776 tonnes, an increase of 13,298 tonnes in comparison with 235,478 tonnes for the same period in 2016.

Commenting on Alba’s Sales volume and Production for Q1 2017, Alba’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Murray said:

"We are pleased to finish the first quarter of 2017 with this strong volume momentum in our Sales and Production We were able to step-up our performance thanks to our plant reliability, integrated marketing approach and most importantly our people who aim to exceed the Company set-targets."

Vedanta's bauxite mine expansion plan gets mixed response from locals

Business Standard - April 4th, 2017

The public hearing held for getting consent from local community for the expansion of bauxite mine of Vedanta-controlled Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) evoked mixed response.

The proceeding was held on Sunday at Mainpat in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh, where the London-listed company had proposed to increase bauxite production from 750,000 tonnes per annum to 2.25 million tonne per annum (mtpa). Vedanta has a 51 per cent stake in Balco, while the remaining share belongs to the Government of India.

A mammoth turnout was reported in the hearing. Over 2,000 residents participated, of which, nearly 800 residents shared their views.

The Balco management said environment, employment and local development were top priorities of the company and assured that it would consider suggestions made by the local residents as. The proceeding, however, received mixed response.

The local representatives, labourers working in the mine and local residents appreciated and supported Balco’s initiative to increase the output in Mainpat. The green activists, however, opposed the expansion plan stating that the company had failed to effectively implement the environment clearance (EC) norms in the mine.

Local legislator Amarjeet Bhagat said he supported the operation of mines as it provided benefits to local residents. Stating that Vedanta-Balco had taken up a good number of development works in the area, Bhagat said the management had been effectively implementing the suggestions given by the people.

The mine would feed the company’s Korba facility that had enhanced its aluminium production to 570,000 mtpa. Reeling under severe raw material crises, the company has been meeting the demand by shipping aluminium powder from Australia. But the process has been a costly affair.

Balco is eyeing to increase bauxite output to 5 mtpa. While it plans to increase the production in Sarguja mine to 2.25 mtpa, the expansion of Kawardha mine was also on card from where company plans to produce 3 mtpa of bauxite.

Mali more than triples bauxite reserves estimate to 1.63 bln T

Nasdaq - April 4th, 2017

By Tiemoko DialloBAMAKO, April 4 (Reuters) - Bauxite reserves in Mali's Falea project are now estimated at 1.63 billion tonnes, which is equivalent to 572 tonnes of refined aluminium following several new discoveries, the Chamber of Mines said on Tuesday.

The landlocked West African country is trying to diversify its mining sector away from gold and is pinning its hopes on Chinese-built rail projects to get base metals such as iron ore and aluminium out to the Atlantic coast.

Mali is Africa's third largest gold producer, but a spate of investment deals signed with China totalling about $11 billion aims to unlock the potential of other minerals -- chiefly, by building a railway to Guinea's port of Conakry and renovating a rail link to Senegal's capital Dakar, Mali's main gateway port.

One of the main beneficiaries of this move will be the Falea mine, the rights to which are currently held by privately-owned Eurasian Resources Group (ERG).

Abdoulaye Pona, the president of Mali's chamber of mines, told Reuters the initial estimate of 439 million tonnes at Falea of ore had been increased by two further discoveries: Bouala, with 720 million tonnes of bauxite equal to 252 million tonnes of aluminium and Torolo, with 480 million tonnes of ore yielding 168 million tonnes of refined metal.

"The (project) is just waiting for the start of the construction of the rails to start the construction of the ramps connecting the production sites to the main track," he said.

Dialla Konate, ERG country manager, told Reuters they were "studying the possibility of (using) ... the port of Conakry."

"Moreover, we are considering ... supplying the local market by truck. We are in talks with local cement manufacturers (who use bauxite), which means that production could start at any time," he added.

Bahrain: $55m GARMCO plant's construction on track

Construction Week Online - April 3rd, 2017

Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill's (GARMCO) $55m (BHD20.7m) recycling and cast house facility in Bahrain is on track to complete as scheduled, officials have announced.

The facility is aimed at developing GARMCO's metal recycling capability, which will help to increase the company's production capacity by 150% to 200,000 tonnes of aluminium slabs per annum.

Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company's (Mumtalakat) chief executive officer, Mahmood Alkooheji, visited the facility with GARMCO chairman Mahmood Alsoufi and acting CEO, Mohamed Essa.

Alkooheji conducted a tour of the site and was briefed on the project's progress and preparations for the expansion of GARMCO's operations, BNA reported.

GARMCO's Essa said the facility will receive first case in July, and the company aims "to reach maximum operational capacity by November this year".

Remarking on the project's scope, Alkooheji said: "The manufacturing sector accounts for 20% of Bahrain's GDP and such projects will boost the kingdom's exports.

"The aluminium industry is a key area of focus for Mumtalakat as we manage our portfolio with the objective of enhancing performance and returns of our assets."