Alumina/Bauxite

Latest News

  • Saint-Gobain divests glass packaging business in North America

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014

    The sale of glass bottles producer Verallia North America gives the French company new cash to reduce its debts and push investments in the buildings and high-performance materials sectors, including proppants and refractories.

  • MIIT reiterates aim to consolidate alumina industry in China

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014

    The move to control China’s alumina and aluminium industry was announced last year, with the list of affected companies released in January. Today’s update shows that the government is serious about asserting control over the industry – of which industrial minerals account for about 5% of total production

  • West Africa Mining Summit: Ghana to implement vertically integrated supply chain

    Wednesday, 09 April 2014

    Ghana, which is deemed to be the most stable nation in West Africa, could be opened up to more potential investors if the government decided on a mine to market strategy, delegates in London heard yesterday.

  • China’s refractories market shrunk in 2012

    Thursday, 03 April 2014

    A fall in refractories production in China negatively affects the demand for refractory industrial minerals and is a clear indication of the slower growth of the Chinese economy in the past two years. Future demand of refractories will strongly depend on governmental policies for China’s industry, in particular for iron and steel.

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Pricing News

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Features

  • LKAB Minerals looks to sustainability

    Friday, 21 February 2014

    LKAB Minerals highlighted the issue of sustainability in refractories at a number of events in the last 12 months, emphasising the need for renewable energy and more recycling.

  • Diary Dates March 2014

    Friday, 21 February 2014

    Industry Events for the industrial minerals market

  • Chromite conundrum: how to bring demand back into an abating market

    Wednesday, 05 February 2014

    South Africa, the world’s leading producer of chromite, has seen its mining sector threatened by strikes and demonstrations since 2012, resulting in the death of 34 miners following clashes at a platinum mine. As calm returns to the sector, Antonio Torrisi, Graduate Reporter, investigates the nation’s chromite supply situation.

  • Alumina and its many uses

    Friday, 24 January 2014

    Despite a well-documented fall in demand for alumina from the refractories market, other applications such as flame retardants and water treatment have remained stable.

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Market Brief

Bauxite is the primary source of aluminium metal, and about 85% of bauxite mined is processed via the Bayer Process to make alumina trihydrate (ATH), then smelter grade alumina (SGA) from which aluminium metal is derived.


The respective processes take place in an alumina refinery and aluminium smelter, which may or may not be integrated.


The remaining 15% of crude bauxite mined is used to produce a range of non-metallurgical bauxite grades and non-metallurgical alumina grades.

 

Bauxite

There are three main bauxites types – boehmite, diaspore, and gibbsite – which each differ in chemical and physical characteristics, and each have predominance in certain regions of the world.

 

Owing to their different characteristics, bauxites are carefully selected for non-metallurgical uses as demanded by the required end use specifications of the derived bauxite and alumina grades.

 

According to the USGS, 201m. tonnes of bauxite was mined in 2009.

 

Although metallurgical grade bauxite may be suitable for certain non-metallurgical applications, such as in cements and slag conditioning, most non-metallurgical bauxites are confined to specific regions in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Guinea, Greece, Guyana, Turkey and the USA.

 

The primary sources of non-metallurgical bauxite are China, Greece, Guyana and Turkey.

 

About 5% of bauxite is mined and processed for direct use as non-metallurgical bauxite grades. Raw, uncalcined bauxite is used for cement, slag conditioning, and chemicals.

 

Calcined bauxite is produced to make abrasive, refractory, welding, and proppant grades.

 

Abrasive grade bauxite is fused to manufacture brown fused alumina used in abrasives and refractories.

 

Alumina

The remaining mined bauxite, about 10%, is processed using the Bayer Process to manufacture ATH, the precursor to a range of non-metallurgical grade alumina (NMGA) grades which serve a wide variety of end uses.

 

Although there are specific NMGA plants, some SGA refineries also host a certain amount of capacity for NMGA production. This may change as market demand for SGA and NMGA dictates.

 

This NMGA market is estimated to total 5.5-5.8m. tpa. The bulk of the NMGA market is termed “commodity hydrate”, eg. used to make aluminium sulphate for water treatment (see pie charts), although fine grades are used as high value flame retardants.

 

The remainder, some 2.8m. tpa is defined as “speciality” or “premium” grades, which are based on calcined aluminas. These are used in higher value end uses, such as in refractories, ceramics, and polishing.

 

Calcined aluminas are also the feedstock to produce high value, high purity grades of tabular alumina and white fused alumina.

 

Bauxite producers

Bosai Minerals Group – China

Demireller Mining – Turkey

Hellenic Mining Enterprises – Greece

S&B Industrial Minerals – Greece

 

Alumina producers

Alcoa – USA

Almatis – Germany

Aluchem – USA

MAL Magyar Aluminium – Hungary

Martinswerk – Germany

Nabaltec – Germany

Rio Tinto Alcan – France

 

Fused alumina producers

C-E Minerals (part of Imerys) – USA

Elfusa – Brazil

Henan Mianchi Great Wall Corundum – China

Treibacher Schleifmittel – Austria

Washington Mills Electro Minerals – USA