The immediate future for bauxite looks promising with a boom period for bauxite considered imminent, driven by demand for China where a substantial fall in home-reserves and domestic production requires a corresponding increase in bauxite imports. In addition to Chinese domestic bauxite reserves being in decline, the average quality of these reserves has been in decline since 2009.
China is set to remain a major player in the globally traded bauxite market, planning to build several nine million tonnes per annum by 2019. The UAE, Indonesia and Laos plan to build new alumina refineries with a potential capacity of more than six million tonnes per annum, also by 2019.
Existing bauxite supplies together with planned developments are expected to satisfy global demands until approximately 2020. Beyond this point in time, new projects will be required to meet the forecast demand, with a supply deficit of more than 25 million tonnes by 2025, and over 50 million tonnes by 2030.
The majority of global demand is based on low temperature (trihydrate) bauxites, which currently represents 75% of Chinese imports. The key Shandong coastal province is 100% dependent on imported bauxite.
The Solomon Islands are potentially well placed to supply high quality low temperature (trihydrate) bauxite DSO product directly into China, while leveraging a geographical shipping advantage.