Russian aluminum major UC Rusal, and the Republic of Guinea have signed an annex to the Dian-Dian concession agreement and also reached an agreement on resuming operations at the Friguia bauxite and alumina complex. The newly signed annex splits the development of the Dian-Dian bauxite mine into three stages. The first stage shall be completed by the end of 2017 and foresees the construction of a mine with the annual bauxite capacity of 3 million metric tons (mt). The second stage is expected to be completed by late 2021 and foresees an increase in mining capacity by up to 6 million mt/y, as well as the development of a project to increase the mine’s annual capacity to 9 million mt with a further possibility to make this amount reach 12 million mt. By the end of 2020, the parties will discuss possible opportunities to build an alumina refinery with an annual capacity of 1.2 million mt of alumina.

The parties agreed that the operations of the Friguia bauxite and alumina complex will resume in January 2017. Rusal will develop a set of measures to restart the refinery and, 12 months after first production, will then gradually increase the site’s production capacity to 550,000-600,000 mt/y of alumina. The company will prepare a draft project alongside a social and economic feasibility study to modernize Friguia with the possibility of increasing its production capacity by up to 1.05 million mt/y. By the end of 2020, the parties will make a decision on the project realization and the implementation time is estimated at no less than three years.

“Taking into consideration the current situation in the global aluminum market, RUSAL’s management and the government of the Republic of Guinea have agreed that today there is no economic rationale behind the launch of new refining facilities. It has been agreed that the focus will be on resuming operations at the existing Friguia facilities and on the stage-by-stage development of the Dian-Dian mine in line with the agreed schedule,” said Vladislav Soloviev, CEO, Rusal.

The right to develop Dian-Dian, the world’s largest bauxite minefield with confirmed reserves of 564 million mt, belongs exclusively to RUSAL. The realization of the project foresees the creation and gradual increase of the ability to mine, transport, store and process bauxite. Originally, the first stage of the Dian-Dian project that involves the construction and putting into operation of a bauxite mine, was intended to be completed by 2016. Following a decree by the Guinean president in December 2013, the Dian-Dian project was classified as having “state importance.”

The Friguia bauxite and alumina complex includes a bauxite mine, an alumina refinery, a railway network as well as other infrastructure. The annual nameplate capacity is 650,000 mt of alumina and 2.1 million mt of bauxite; the total reserves are estimated at 325 million t of bauxite. Production was suspended in April 2012.