The Supply Of Bauxite and Brown Fused Alumina in Henan, Guizhou, and Shanxi Province
Regarding bauxite supply, the primary producing provinces of Henan, Guizhou, and Shanxi have suffered serious interruptions of bauxite mining and calcined bauxite and fused alumina production, and will continue to do so into 2019.
The government’s drive to switch all plants from coal- to natural gas-fired kilns comes with technical and financial challenges to most producers, for example, adding some US$40-70/t to calcined bauxite prices.
In the key bauxite mining area of Xiaoyi, Shanxi province, raw bauxite production which stood at about 10-20m tpa up to 2017, dramatically declined to just 3m tpa in 2018 – this is raw feed stock for both smelter grade alumina (majority of consumption) and non-metallurgical calcined bauxite grades.
Xiaoyi’s calcined bauxite kiln capacity was some 1.5-2.0m tpa from over 100 kilns; by October 2018 only three plants were active in the district, and none in Yangquan, the other main production district.
In Henan, by Q3 2018 calcined bauxite production was “minimal”, since 60% of the raw bauxite feed stock supply for brown fused alumina (BFA) grade was stopped indefinitely with the closure of the major Jia Jia Wa bauxite mine, in Sanmenxia.
Henan BFA producers were starting to import ore from Guizhou, which was adding about US$40/t to prices.
Guizhou also had very few calciners operating, and is challenged by limited mining of 75% & 75+% Al2O3 ore.
However, by late November 2018 it seemed that things had got worse. Reports from China stated that owing to high levels of pollution in Hebei, Shanxi, and Henan provinces, every plant is now closed until further notice, regardless of whether they have secured environmental permits or have switched to natural gas.