Cape Alumina Pty Ltd., part owned by Chinese aluminium group Chiping Xinfa Huayu Alumina Co Ltd., has gained approval to look further afield for bauxite in Australia, underscoring China’s hunger for the raw aluminium-making material outside its borders.
Cape Alumina is prospecting in Australia’s bauxite-rich Cape York region, where world No.2 miner Rio Tinto Ltd./Plc. also has mining operations.
Australia’s Queensland state has granted Cape Alumina rights to explore on three more prospects in the region after 18 months of consultations with the Mapoon Aboriginal Council over access to the land, Cape Alumina’s 40 percent owner Metallica Minerals Ltd. said.
Xinfa holds 17.5 percent of Cape Alumina.
Paul Messenger, chief executive of Cape Alumina, said the new properties include the Hey Point mining ground, known as tenements, covering an area of known high-grade bauxite seven kilometres (4.3 miles) south of the bauxite-rich Weipa deposits on the eastern seaboard.
“The proximity of the Hey Point tenement to deep water shipping lanes means that little infrastructure would be required to develop any bauxite resources defined on the tenement,” Messenger said.
Generally it takes about four tonnes of bauxite to make two tonnes of alumina to make a tonne of aluminium.
Xinfa is not alone in investing in Australia’s raw aluminium-making materials sector.
Norsk Hydro 43 percent owned by the Norwegian government and one of the world’s biggest aluminium producers, this week signed a memorandum of understanding with United Minerals Corp. to study whether a mine and refinery were feasible by early next decade in the Kimberley region of far western Australia.
United Minerals holds more than 7,000 square kilometres in the region, including prospects believed to hold at least 40 million tonnes of bauxite. A final agreement would give Hydro a 75 percent holding in the project, which is in line with Hydro’s strategy to expand its primary aluminium production business.
Hydro already operates the Kurri Kurri primary aluminium plant in Australia and also has a minority stake in the nearby Tomago primary aluminium plant.
Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. (Chalco) expects to help develop a $2.3 billion bauxite and alumina project at Aurukun, near Cape Alumina’s property.
Chalco, the world’s top alumina producer after Alcoa Inc. of the United States, has said the first phase of the mine will have a production capacity of about 2 million tonnes of alumina annually. ($1=A$1.21)
Information from: Reuters