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06.11.2019

Bauxilum suspends bauxite, alumina production for unstable power supply and mismanagement

According to a recent report, CVG Bauxilum, Venezuela state-owned bauxite and alumina producer, has suspended its bauxite and alumina production due to a lack of imported materials, stable power supply, and mismanagement. The company and union officials said they renounced the plans of ramping up the monthly production levels of 18,000 tonnes of alumina and reviving the company’s 6 mill. t/a year open-pit bauxite mine before the end of 2020 for the uncertain future.

Bauxilum’s shutdown this month “shuts the lid on the aluminium industry’s coffin,” a senior company union official said. He added, “The entire Venezuelan aluminum industry from the Los Pijiguaos bauxite mine to the smelters is now shut down, possibly forever.” Industry and national production minister Tareck El Aissami, a member of Maduro’s inner circle, is of an opinion that the block of essential imports of caustic soda, spare parts, and mining equipment, as a result of the US sanctions against Maduro government, has led to the shutdown of Bauxilum. But the company’s union official sees the sanctions as a small factor besides mismanagement, poor quality alumina, lack of electricity, and the collapse of operational infrastructure.

According to a 10 October CVG report on the state-owned aluminium industry, Bauxilum could produce only 40,000 t of alumina in total since its official relaunch in mid-April 2019, averaging monthly production 6666 t. The report also showed that Bauxilum could not export the alumina produced since April for being unable to meet international quality specifications. The alumina is now piled up at dilapidated storage facilities at Bauxilum. At the end of September, just before the shutdown, Bauxilum produced 120,000 t/a of bauxite, representing roughly 2 % of its nameplate capacity, revealed the CVG report. But the efforts to raise the output stalled because most of the mine’s equipment went out of service and the US sanctions discouraged potential international bauxite buyers and foreign equipment vendors, added the report. “Even Chinese and Russian aluminium companies declined to get involved in Venezuelan aluminum after inspecting conditions on the ground,” a Bauxilum union official said. (AlCircle.com, October 30, 2019)