Since 2023, the supply problem of bauxite has affected the operation of alumina production capacity around the world to varying degrees, and the resulting supply-side disturbance has become one of the important factors pushing up alumina prices.
Global bauxite resources have the characteristics of wide distribution and high concentration.USGS U.S. Geological Survey data show that in 2022, the global bauxite base resource reserves of 32 billion tons, the countries with the largest reserves are Guinea, Vietnam, Australia and Brazil. Among them, Guinea’s bauxite reserves are about 7.4 billion tons, accounting for about 23% of the world’s reserves; Vietnam’s bauxite reserves account for about 19% of the world’s reserves, Australia’s bauxite reserves account for about 16.56% of the world’s reserves, and China’s bauxite reserves only account for about 3% of the global reserves. On the contrary, China’s bauxite production ranks second in the world. In 2021, Australia, China and Guinea will account for 28.2%, 22.05% and 21.79% of bauxite production, respectively, according to USGS data.
Indonesia’s bauxite export ban was formally implemented on June 10, 2023, due to the existence of a certain buffer period, the implementation of Indonesia’s mining ban on alumina production capacity operation is relatively limited, after the implementation of Indonesia’s mining ban, the structure of import sources of bauxite has also undergone a slight change. Recently, Australia is considering adjusting the list of “key minerals”. The Australian government has adopted a new definition of critical minerals, and scarcity is no longer a prerequisite for inclusion on the list. Australia as an important source of bauxite imports, Australia’s initiative to a certain extent caused the market to the overseas bauxite supply risk of re-emerging concerns.
From historical experience, by the industry concentration and production process, alumina production capacity will rely on the use of a certain grade or similar grade of ore, the same capacity production line is difficult to switch to a different grade of bauxite for production. Therefore, in a certain period of time, a higher degree of dependence on a certain ore importing country has become an industry law. Non-mainstream importing countries of bauxite ore is more as a domestic mine and mainstream importing countries in the supply of ore when the problem of temporary supply, non-mainstream bauxite importing countries supply continuity and stability to be verified, the existing production line of the process is also limited, in the short term, China’s overall imports of the proportion of difficult to have a large increase in the import of ores from Guinea, Australia will still be dominant in the long term.
From a general point of view, recently, non-mainstream bauxite importing countries slightly emerging, so that we see the possibility of importing more bauxite from these countries, but at present it is more of a temporary replenishment under the supply gap, and the stability of its supply still remains to be seen, and ore imports from Guinea and Australia will still dominate for a long time. In the future, bauxite further increase in foreign dependence has been an inevitable trend, and in the geopolitics, natural climate and national resource protectionism, how to broaden the source of bauxite imports channels, to avoid too high a dependence on a certain import pathway to bring the risk of supply, will be an important issue in the future.