Bauxite is a soft iron ore or rather the chief commercial ore of aluminum, and has portions of its iron composition substituted by aluminum. It forms when silica leaks out from laterite soil. It is mostly found in tropical or subtropical climates and is the main source for the aluminum industry.
Bauxite does not have a particular composition – it is just a mixture of minerals such as hydrated alumina and iron oxides. The aluminum ore that is used as the main source of the aluminum metal. Its sources of aluminum include: diaspora, gibbsite and bohmite. Although aluminum demand is increasing, there is no danger of bauxite reserves being fully exhausted. Here are the top 10 largest bauxite producing countries in the world in 2019.
Table of Page Contents
The world’s bauxite behemoth is undisputedly Australia. The country produced 76.28 million tons of bauxite in 2012, meaning it was responsible for producing about 31% of the world’s bauxite.in 2014, Australia’s production was 82,500 metric tons. Australia currently has five active mines; the Boddington mine, which is operated by BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto Alcan’s Weipa mine in Queensland, the Gove mine operated by Pacific Aluminium and the Huntly and the Willowdale mines which is operated by Alcoa.
These five mines are the main supplies to 7 refineries that then supply six aluminium smelters. The Weipa and the Gove mines have deposits that have almost 50% available alumina and are the highest grade deposits in the world. However, the deposits in Willowdale and Huntly mines are low grade and they have around 30% available alumina. Australian bauxite deposits are shallow and therefore very easy to mine. They have the misfortune of being high in silica, which requires caustic soda, thereby raising refining costs. Australia mainly exports bauxite to China and India.
China happens to be the world’s second largest producer but also consumes the most bauxite. It produced 40 million tons of bauxite in 2012, which is about 16% of global bauxite output. In 2014, China produced 47,000 metric tons of bauxite. China has resources of bauxite estimated at 830 million tons which is basically 3% of the world’s total. These resources are in the ninth position in the world as far as their size is concerned and are confined to four provinces: Henan, Guangxi, Shanxi and Guizhou.
The biggest bauxite producing mine in China is Jiakou mine in Shanxi province which up until 2012, was producing 6.4 million tons per year. The Xiaoyi-shaoy mine also in Shanxi province produces 5.9 million tons per year. Chinalco, otherwise known as the Aluminum Corporation of China is the leading bauxite producing company. As mentioned earlier, China is one of the main consumers of bauxite in the world. It imports most of its bauxite from Australia and Guinea.
In 2012, Brazil produced 34.95 million tons of bauxite. This was estimated to be around 14% of the world’s total output. Brazil has bauxite resources that are estimated at 2,600 million tons and which comprise nine percent of the world’s output. The Porto Trombeta’s mine, which is owned by Mineracao Rio do Norte (MRN) is Brazil’s biggest mine.
This mine has been in operation since 1979 and has a capacity of 18 million tons per year. The second largest mine in Brazil is Paragominas which is operated by Vale and has a capacity of 5.4 million tons per year. Following that is Juruti mine which is operated by Alcoa and has a capacity of 2.6 million per year.
With a production capacity of 30 million tons, Indonesia is the fourth largest producer of bauxite in the world. It contributes about 12% of the world’s output and has bauxite resources that are estimated at 1000 million tons. These resources account for about 45 of the world’s total.
The main mines in Indonesia are: the Kendawangan, the Tangerang and the East Kotawaringin. The Kendawangan mine is located in Sulawesi, Eastern Indonesia and has a production capacity of 14 million tons annually. The Tangerang mine has a production capacity of 12 million tons a year. The East Kotawaringin produces 8 million tons per year.
A fast rising producer of bauxite, the West African nation of Guinea is responsible for the production of 17.4 million tons in 2012. This accounts for around 7% of the world’s total. The nation’s resources are estimated to be 7,400 million tons per year comprise 26% of the world’s total resources. Guinea’s biggest mine is the Sangaredi mine, otherwise known as the Boke mine.
It produces well over 14 million tons of bauxite per year. This mine is operated by Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG) which is the country’s main bauxite producing company. The company is a joint venture between Halco Mining and the Guinean government.
India holds the world’s seventh biggest bauxite resources which are estimated to be at 900 million tons. These recoverable resources comprise 3% of the world’s total. In 2012, India produced 15.19 million tons, which is 6% of the world’s total output. the recoverable resources are mostly confined to the states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Owned and operated by government-owned company National Aluminum Company (Nalco), the country’s biggest mine is Panchpatmali mine.
It has a production capacity of 6.3 million tons. The second largest mine is Baphlimali mine which is operated by Hindalco and has a production capacity of 4.5 million tons per year. Another major mine is Kolhapur mine in Maharashtra which at a production capacity of 2.3 million tons annually.
This Caribbean island is synonymous with sun, sea, sand and reggae music but is also home to 7% of the world’s bauxite resources. Jamaica produced 9.33 million tons in 2012, which was about 4% of the world’s total output. The nation’s resources are thought to be 2,000 million tons. The nation’s biggest mine is Discovery Bay, which is also known as St. Ann bauxite mine has a production capacity of 4.5 million tons annually.
The mine is owned and operated by Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partnership (NJBP). Following Discovery Bay is Mount Oliphant mine which produces 3.7 million tons yearly and is operated by Jamalco. Jamalco is a joint venture between the government of Jamaica and Alcoa.
This nation produced 5.17 million tons of bauxite in 2012, which was about 2% of the world’s global output. In 2014, production of bauxite was about 5,500 tons. As of 2013, Kazakhstan had about 809 million tons of recoverable resources. These reserves are hosted in sedimentary karst deposits.
Aluminum of Kazakhstan (one of the largest alumina producers) controls the nation’s alumina and bauxite industry and is partially owned by KMRC and the Kazakhstan government. This company controls the Red October and Torgai bauxite mines in the Konstanai region. Lissakovsk is the biggest mine, with a production capacity of 3.3 million tons per year. It is followed by the Turgay and Arkalyk mines.
In 2012, in 2012, Russia produced 5.16 million tons which was roughly 2% of the world’s total output. 30% of Russia’s reserves are concentrated in the Northern Urals region. The region also houses over 80% of Russia’s total bauxite production. The country’s biggest mine is the Severo-Uraisk mine with a production capacity of 3 million tons per year.
The second largest mine is the Sredne-Timan mine which has a production capacity of 2.4 million tons annually. The SUAL group is the country’s leading bauxite miner. Its assets include: 15 aluminum smelters, 8 bauxite mines, 11 alumina refineries, 2 silicon factories, 2 aluminum plants and 3 aluminum powder plants.
10. Republic of Suriname
Suriname’s is the world’s tenth largest country in bauxite production. The country’s main revenue source is actually bauxite which accounts for more than 15% of the nation’s GDP and 70% of its export earnings. In 2012, Suriname produced 2.9 million tons which was about 1% of the global output.
In 2014, the country produced 32,700 million tons. The country’s biggest mine is the Coermotibo mine with 2.6 million tons a year as its production capacity. It is followed by Kaimangrasie whose production capacity is 1.4 million tons a year. The main mining company in Suriname is Suriname Aluminum Company (Suralco).
The above are the world’s largest producing bauxite countries in 2019. Most of these countries bauxite has been a contributing a huge chunk of the GDP and has employed thousands or even millions of people. All we could ask is they follow the WCED 1987 report resolution that calls for the sustainable use of the resources we have.