The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has underscored the need for the country to establish an alumina processing plant to refine raw bauxite into ore and create an integrated aluminium industry.
It said the establishment of the plant would raise the country’s earning from the mineral and also open up an industry that would create jobs, businesses and entrepreneurs.
It followed an observation by the export facilitation body that the country was earning less from its large deposits of bauxite materials due to the unavailability of a plant to process the material into ore for the local and export market.
In a strategy document that seeks to double export revenues from aluminium in the next four years, the authority noted that bauxite in its raw form was worth about $40 a tonne although the processed alumina cost $400 a tonne.
The GEPA added that refined aluminium raised the value to about US$2,100 per tonne while tertiary processing helped the value rise to US$6,000 per tonne.
It, therefore, explained that the government needed to expedite negotiations with foreign investors, particularly Sinohydro of China, on the establishment of a bauxite refinery within the planned time frame to help add value to the bauxite and raise export earnings from the metal.
It also called for the need to expedite action and conclude negotiations and arrangements for the required infrastructure for the industry to operate on.
Aluminium plates, sheets and coils maintained the lowest earner of the top 10 leading Non-Traditional Export (NTE) products with a value of US$78,279,721 in 2019 against US$85,002,658 in 2018.
Cocoa butter overtook cashew nuts as the highest earner in 2019 with a value of US$334,529,289.
According to the 2019 report on the analysis of NTE statistics, articles of plastics and aluminium sheets/plates fell due to stiff competition from Asian exports of the products to the ECOWAS market, among other reasons.
Ghana is home to three out of the four stages in producing aluminium. Only the refining stage does not take place in Ghana. The rest, namely bauxite mining, smelting of alumina into raw aluminium ingots and the casting of aluminium ingots into sheets, coils and profiles, take place here.
Hence, by an act of parliament, the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) was created in 2018 to promote and develop an integrated aluminium industry.
The GIADEC board was inaugurated in March 2019. Currently, it is estimated that there are 900 million tonnes of bauxite minerals across the three main locations in the country.
The Awaso site has 60 million tonnes while the Nyinahin and Kyebi sites have 700 million tonnes and 160 million tonnes each.
Currently, the key players in the aluminium industry are the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO), Aluworks Ltd and tertiary processors such as Domod and Lion Aluminium.
– GIADEC is focused on ensuring that Ghana gets the best out of the aluminium industry with at least 30 per cent stake in any new mine, refinery or smelter entity.
– GIADEC plans to get four mining concessions with a combined production of about 20 million tonnes of bauxite a year and three refineries with a combined capacity of four to six million tonnes of alumina or refined bauxite.