Bauxite in the Solomon Islands
The presence of bauxite in the Solomon Islands has been known since shortly after World War II. However, until recent mining on West Rennell Island (Rennel Island), by Asia Pacific Investment & Development Limited (APID), plans to develop these deposits has never proceeded further than the production of bulk samples for pilot plant test work.
Bauxite in the Solomon Islands is predominantly of the favoured gibbsite (low-temperature, trihydrate) type of mineralisation. These bauxite deposits typically occur as discontinuous pockets that fill depressions within the uneven karst surface of the uplifted Pliestocene coral limestone basement. Bauxite profile depths vary considerably due to the uneven and discontinuous nature of the pockets, which are typically marked by fern clearings and not the usual tropical flora.
Exploration activity for this style of bauxite deposits has increased significantly in recent years, largely due to the increase in demand for bauxite to feed growing alumina demand in China and the Asia Pacific Region.
In addition to the mining activity on Rennell Island by APID, Australian company South West Pacific Bauxite Pty Ltd recently received mining approvals for its Vaghena Bauxite Project, located approximately 110 kilometres northeast of SWNG. The Vaghena Project has a reported JORC 2012 resource of 30.1Mt at 46.9% Al2O3 with 3% total SiO2.
Enormous scope remains to explore for and validate historically reported occurrences of bauxite in the Solomon Islands, with a view to establishing premium grade DSO bauxite operations for export into the Asian market.