On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, President Akufo Addo launched Ghana’s Integrated Aluminium Industry projects, which will witness the full exploitation of the country’s bauxite reserve but in an environmentally sustainable manner.
According to the President, the project will require some US$6 billion driven largely by private investors in partnership with the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC). The project, which may be described as one of the boldest projects since Ghana’s Independence.
Ghana Integrated Aluminium Industry Project
The project is said to be implemented in four (4) phases.
- Phase 1: This is said to involve the expansion of the existing mine at Awaso in the Bibiani-Anhwiaso-Bekwai Municipal district of the Western North Region, and the building of a bauxite refinery.
- Phase 2: Development of a mine and a refinery solution at Nyinahin-Mpasaaso in the Atwimaa Mponua District in the Ashanti Region.
- Phase 3: Development of a mine in Kyebi in the East Akim Municipal District of the Eastern Region and a second mine at Nyinahin-Mpasaaso. Building of a refinery at Atwimaa Mponua District in the Ashanti Region and Kyebi, respectively.
- Phase 4: Modernization and expansion of the VALCO smelter to improve efficiency and increase capacity.
Benefits of the Integrated Aluminium Industry project
According to the President, the project lies at the very core of Ghana’s transformation agenda, and its impact on Ghana’s development goal, job, and wealth creation cannot be underestimated.
The president pointed out that the project would lead to the development of other sectors of the economy. It would ensure integration and value addition across the aluminium industry value chain. The transformation of other sectors of the economy particularly holds for the railway and port sector infrastructure.
The project would also lessen dependence on the importation of aluminium products which will, in turn, save and generate more revenue for other development goals.
Ghana’s Bauxite industry
Bauxite, discovered by French geologist Pierre Berthe in the early 1800s is the main raw material used in the commercial production of alumina (Al2O3) and aluminium metal. About 85% of bauxite produced in the world is converted into aluminium, which has a variety of uses. Some of the uses of aluminium include food cans, foil for packaging, automobiles, solar panels, transformers, marine vessels, railway cars, and spacecraft.
One-third of the world’s proven bauxite reserves are said to be found in three African countries, which are: Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
Ghana holds the third-largest reserve with an estimated 960 million metric tonnes most of which is found in Awaso, Kyebi and Nyinahin. Ghana is also Africa’s third-largest bauxite exporter with 1.4 million tonnes in 2019, down from 1.8 million tonnes in 2018.
Four years ago, the Government of Ghana signed a memorandum of understanding with China which may culminate in the development of a $10 billion bauxite venture.
In 2018, the Government of Ghana and the Chinese government concluded on a US$2 billion bauxite deal worth of rail, road, and bridge networks, in exchange for access to 5% of Ghana’s bauxite reserves. The deal received criticisms from the political opposition, investment partners, and environmental activist for a lack of transparency, threat to the environment, and an increasing threat to debt sustainability.