The aluminum market dynamics in Africa is quite unique from the rest of the world. Africa is one of the largest producers of Bauxite, which is the main ore of aluminium. African nation Guinea has emerged as one of the highest bauxite exporters in the world and ranks number 2 in bauxite production, only after Australia. The other countries that produce and export bauxite are - Ghana, Cameroon, Mozambique, Ivory Coast etc. In 2019, Africa has produced more than 66 million metric tonnes of bauxite, most of which was produced by Guinea. South Africa, one of the most important countries in Africa, does not have any bauxite reserve and does not produce any bauxite.
Despite having such large bauxite deposits in the continent, Africa lacks in the production of aluminium. Irregular power supply, lack of financial investments, political instability and lack of urbanization and developments are some of the reasons why Africa has been deprived in the aluminium production for decades. Earlier there were some smelters which have been built in Africa but due to lack of production capacity and other issues, many have been shut down in recent years, Ex - Bayside Aluminium in South Africa and Alscon in Nigeria. Overall, aluminium consumption is also very low in Africa & more importantly, its decreasing over the time. In 2010, aluminium consumption was 821 thousand metric tonnes which gradually reduced to 421 thousand metric tonnes by 2020 (~50% reduction in demand). So, local consumption also plays a critical role in lowering production of aluminium.
While Africa produced 66 million metric tonnes of bauxite, it has only produced 1.6 million tonnes of aluminium in 2019. This production figure has remained mostly stable throughout the decade though. In the global context, Africa contributes only 2% of the global aluminium production.
Below are some of the key countries in Africa with their current dynamics in the aluminium sector
Guinea, which possesses at least a quarter of the world’s known bauxite reserves, is the top bauxite exporting country in Africa with 64 million tonnes (Mt) in 2019. The Sangaredi mine, which is Guinea’s biggest bauxite producer, is owned by Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée – a joint venture between the Guinean Government (49%) and US firm Halco Mining (51%). Some of the major bauxite mining companies plying their trade in the West African country are the Guinean-Chinese consortium SMB-WAP and Guinea Alumina Corporation S.A. – owned by Emirates Global Aluminium.
Sierra Leone has a significant bauxite mining operation and exported about 1.73Mt of the ore in 2019 – placing it second on the list, after Guinea. Sierra Minerals, the nation’s second-largest mining employer, is the sole owner of Sieromco Bauxite – the only bauxite mine in the country. It is estimated to hold about 31Mt of reserves.
Since the 1960s, Ghana planned to form an integrated bauxite and aluminium industry as part of its industrial development. A $2bn agreement with China could see the development of another bauxite venture in Ghana, which would give rise to not only alumina refineries but also railway and road infrastructure to transport the ore.
The southern African country holds an estimated 2Mt of bauxite reserves. Its Mina Alumina mine, which is based in the Manica Province, has been tapped continuously since 1935.
Top Companies in Africa
Below are the top 5 companies in Africa that produces aluminium –