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Alumina/Bauxite

Latest News

  • Extra charges on heavy cargoes cause mineral shipping delays

    Wednesday, 24 May 2017

    Shipping companies are charging an additional handling fee for loading heavy cargoes in China, further increasing shipping costs for many minerals buyers and leading to some delivery delays.

  • Noranda's new owners invest in alumina capacity

    Monday, 22 May 2017

    The US-based alumina producer, recently spun out from the bankrupt Noranda Aluminium, gets backing for expansion from Louisiana state government

  • Price briefing 12-18 May

    Friday, 19 May 2017

    The ongoing draconian anti-pollution controls in China continue to disrupt production in a number of minerals, which has lifted prices in bauxite and antimony trioxide. Meanwhile, fused magnesia is no longer available in China; producers announced another rare earth price hike; chromite and silicon carbide prices remained stable; and lithium carbonate spot have risen in China again.

  • Supply shortage pushes Chinese bauxite prices higher again

    Friday, 19 May 2017

    Chinese bauxite spot prices increased again in May as the ongoing anti-pollution related production shutdowns caused severe shortages in the market.

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Pricing News

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Features

  • Innovation and conservatism in technical ceramics

    Thursday, 26 January 2017

    Technical ceramics are opening up new possibilities in everything from spaceships to dentistry, but the closed nature of the industry’s raw materials supply chain may be holding the sector back, Davide Ghilotti, Chief Reporter, finds.

  • Pure genius? How new technology could shake up HPA supply

    Thursday, 26 January 2017

    High purity alumina is typically produced via an add-on stage to traditional alumina extraction from bauxite, but at least two companies are on the cusp of breaking into the material’s supply chain with revolutionary new processing methods, Cameron Perks, IM Correspondent, finds.

  • 2016 Year in Review

    Thursday, 15 December 2016

    A round up of the year's main events in major global industrial minerals markets such as lithium, agriminerals, rare earths and titanium dioxide.

  • Cut and thrust in the global abrasives market

    Monday, 22 August 2016

    The global abrasives market is a fairly steady one, but new innovations in application technology are helping to compensate for areas of shrinking demand, Rose Pengelly, IM Correspondent, discovers.

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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

Alteo – 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