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)