Iran to Seek Bids for Guinea Bauxite Pipeline in Aluminum Push

  • Pipeline replaces railway from central Guinea to coast
  • Feasibility study on project expected in two to three months

Iran expects to issue a tender by the end of 2016 to build a pipeline in Guinea for transporting bauxite mined in the West African nation to a port for shipment to the Persian Gulf country to provide raw material for a planned $10 billion aluminum production push.

The tender would be issued after an economic feasibility study is received by German consultants DMT GmbH in the next two to three months, Mohammad Aghajanlou, director of the mineral industries department of state-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, said in an interview in Tehran on Thursday. Iran plans to boost aluminum production to 1.5 million metric tons a year by 2025.

Iran has a joint partnership with Guinea’s government to develop a bauxite mine in Dabola, about 370 kilometers (230 miles) from the coast, under a 99-year agreement that is renewable every 25 years. The project was inactive for the first 25 years due to high transportation costs and inadequate infrastructure, Aghajanlou said.

Rouhani decision

“The government of President Hassan Rouhani has decided to revive aluminum projects including the one in Guinea,” he said. “Import of bauxite into Iran via large ship is much more economical compared to what it was 20 years ago.”

A pipeline for the bauxite is considered a better option than building a railway from the mine to waterfront, Aghajanlou said. “The idea of a railway has now been replaced by a pipeline as transport through railway is very costly and uneconomical,” he said. The bauxite stone would be crushed, mixed with water and then pumped through the pipeline to a port for export, he said.

Iran’s aluminum production of 350,000 tons a year is below capacity of 470,000 tons because of a shortage of bauxite and insufficient electricity generation, Mehdi Karbasian, managing director of IMMIDRO, said on Wednesday. To reach the 2025 goal of 1.5 million tons, Iran needs 1.6 million tons of additional alumina, the material made from bauxite that is then processed into aluminum, and an integrated power network connected to the aluminum industry, Aghajanlou said.

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