With almost US$1B in bauxite reserves, Govt still hoping to set up alumina plant

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat

While he did not pronounce on a timeframe, Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat has indicated that the government is still exploring the possibility of establishing an alumina plant, taking into consideration the country’s vast and lucrative bauxite reserves.

Currently, there are two bauxite operators: Bosai Minerals which is operating at Linden, Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice) and Guyana Industrial Minerals Inc. (GINMIN) which is mining from Bonasika, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).

Minister Bharrat, during a recent broadcast programme, noted that Bosai has about 14 more years of deposit while GINMIN has about 12 more years. In addition, he revealed that there are unexplored deposits in various locations across the country, including in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) close to the Suriname border.

It was previously reported that Guyana’s bauxite reserves stand at US$1 billion. With this in mind, the Natural Resources Minister emphasised that an alumina plant is practicable.

“We do have a large reserve in country that could be adequate for the realisation of  an alumina plant,” he said.

“Originally, there was an agreement with BOSAI that an alumina plant would have been established for their operation…an alumina plant would require certain amount of electricity to power that plant and that has been one of the hindrance again…But I wouldn’t say that it is off the table, it is something that we are still considering and something that we are working with the company to ensure that there are some amounts of progress or realisation on that part, sometime in the near future,” Bharrat noted.

Last year, Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Peter Ramsaroop had revealed that government is looking at the possibility of setting up an alumina plant being established in Guyana by 2025.

He made this statement while participating in a China-Guyana investment opportunities seminar. According to Dr Ramsaroop, an alumina plant would utilise Guyana’s rich bauxite resources and create value-added products.

There was once a functional alumina plant in Mackenzie, Linden, that ended up being closed in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, in May last year, President Dr Irfaan Ali had held talks with Brazil on offering help with the further development of the bauxite industry here.

In a joint statement following a high-level caucus between Guyanese officials and the delegation from the Portuguese-speaking nation, it was revealed, “President Ali invited Brazil to consider cooperating with Guyana in the development of the bauxite industry in light of the changed energy situation and the importance of alumina in clean technology applications”.

This is not the first time the Guyanese leader has brought up bauxite with his Brazilian counterpart. During a teleconference between the two Heads of State back in January 2022, President Ali had pointed out that expanding opportunities in other non-oil natural resources such as bauxite would create the prospect of a direct link to northern Brazil and the Atlantic that can “create an excellent platform for us to develop an integrated project”.