Bauxite companies bullish on production growth

Bauxite companies bullish on production growth

A section of the gathering at yesterday’s bauxite sector forum at Watooka House, in Linden.

Bosai Minerals Group and Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI)–a subsidiary of Russian bauxite company Rusal–have both projected increased output for this year but are guarded about what this will mean in financial terms.

This was revealed at a review of the bauxite sector held at a forum yesterday at Watooka House, in Linden. The event, hosted by the Ministry of Natural Re-sources and the Environment, saw the presence of executives of both companies, officials of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others. Minister of Natural Re-sources and the Environment Robert Persaud gave the opening address at the two hour plus interactive session.

A section of the gathering at yesterday’s bauxite sector forum at Watooka House, in Linden.
A section of the gathering at yesterday’s bauxite sector forum at Watooka House, in Linden.

Present too was Chairman of the Region 10 Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Sharma Solomon, who registered his disappointment during the session with the late notice that he received of the meeting.

He said that had he known earlier, he would have been able to prepare to properly interact on the issues surrounding the bauxite industry.

According to the ministry, bauxite production improved significantly last year, moving from 1,827,555 metric tonnes in 2011 to 2,034,811 metric tonnes at the end of November 2012, representing an overall improvement of 25.7% relative to the 1,618,483 produced in the period January to November 2011.

It said that BCGI produced 1,416,287 metric tonnes of bauxite in the period January to November 2012, which was 5.9% more than that which was produced for the whole of 2011 (1,337,057 metric tonnes).

The ministry said too that Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc produced 618,524 metric tonnes between January to November 2012, 26%  more than for the whole of 2011 when it produced 490,498 metric tonnes. According to the ministry, Bosai announced that it will invest close to US$100 million to expand its operations in 2013.

Bosai said that for 2013, it plans to bring its production to 892,944 metric tonnes, which will be 35% over what it achieved in 2012. Speaking on behalf of Bosai yesterday, Orin Barnwell said that the company has plans to develop the east bank of Kara Kara in its expansion drive. CEO of Bosai George Zhao added that while the demand for Refractory ‘A’ Super Calcined (RASC) bauxite has increased, compeitition has caused the price to go down. As a result, the company will focus also on metallurgical grade bauxite, he said.

Rusal, whose production began increasing from about 2011, expects a 19% increase in production this year. KC Singh, the head of Rusal’s geology department, said that the company is developing its Kurubuka project, which it hopes to commence operating in 2014. He said that the Kurubuka project should have started in 2009 but the financial crisis at the time meant that this was not possible.

Rusal said that their investment in the new project will see an increase of 10% in the workforce.

Singh said that the company faced difficulties last year because of the high cost of production. He said that while it is hoping to produce 1.8 million tonnes of bauxite, “I don’t think that we will have the market for 1.9 metric tonnes but what we do not sell we will stockpile.”

Dunstan Barrow, chairman of the forum, pressed both companies to say what the projections in production for 2013 mean in dollar value, but none of the officials of either company addressed these questions.

‘Respect’

In making his contribution to the forum, Regional Chairman Solomon said that despite the advances in the bauxite sector over the years in Guyana, he has not seen the expansion of the involvement of citizens of the region.

“We have the ongoing matter of the Rusal workers,” he said, referring to the 2009 dismissal of 57 employees of Rusal, for which to date there has been no resolution.

He said too that he will be pressing the parliamentary opposition to bring a motion to the National Assembly to bring a resolution to the impasse between the BCGI and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union over the dismissal of the workers.

He noted there are many issues that residents bring to the attention of the RDC regarding the mining companies, including dust pollution. “Both companies must ensure that the people are respected and given the necessary information. The RDC must be informed of these events,” he said.

Solomon, however, thanked both Rusal and Bosai for their continued involvement in the region.

Chairman of Linden Town Interim Management Committee Orrin Gordon said that the non-resolution of the dismissed workers issue will remain a blot on Rusal’s portfolio, no matter how rosy its production figures may appear. “We have to sort it out and move on,” he said. He called for more involvement of the citizens of the region in the planning of the future of the companies.

Meanwhile, Minister Persaud, in his address, said that all companies investing in Guyana must follow the country’s laws and respect the ethos of the society. He said that it is one set of laws for everyone and this must be understood.

Persaud said too that the community must realise that for the companies to thrive, there must be stability. The minister made the point that he wants to have the communities involved in the planning for the bauxite sector, so as to help create the enabling environment for more investment.

“We will be expecting companies to be consistent and predictable in terms of setting of targets,” he said, stressing the need for companies not to turn their backs on mined out areas but to engage in restoration and revegetation. He said that the ministry will not be compromising on environmental enforcement.

The minister also announced that a similar interactive forum on the bauxite sector is planned for Aroaima in the not too distant future.

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