CONAKRY, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Guinean bauxite mining company La Guineenne des Mines (GDM) shipped the first ore from its project in the western Boke region on Thursday and will target exports of 2 to 4 million tonnes this year, its chief executive said.
The first cargo of 174,000 tonnes of the aluminium ore was loaded onto ships operated by Singapore’s Winning Shipping and Chinese firm Shadong Weiqiao at the port of Dapilon.
The companies - the main owners of the Societe Miniere de Boke (SMB) bauxite project - negotiated rights to purchase and export GDM’s production.
“We plan, in the short-term, to load and ship two vessels per month,” Mori Diane, GDM’s CEO and principal shareholder, told Reuters. “We also want to explore other areas we haven’t yet touched but for which we hold permits.”
The project currently estimates its proven reserves at 40 million tonnes of bauxite, and Diane said GDM has a long-term goal of processing its ore locally.
The bauxite industry in Guinea, Africa’s top producer of the ore, is flourishing even as development of huge iron ore deposits in its forested interior have stalled due to a slump in global commodities prices.
Its main exporters are SMB, which produced around 30 million tonnes of bauxite last year, and CBG, owned by the Guinean state, Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan and Dadco, with around 15 million tonnes of annual output.
Until 2015, CBG and Russia’s Rusal were the only companies exporting bauxite from Guinea. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Joe Bavier and David Evans)