Logistics, Ports & Terminals, Mining and Heavy Industries

Bauxite junior approaching first Tasmanian export

Bauxite in Queensland. Photo: Rio Tinto

New exports from ASX-listed bauxite junior Australian Bauxite out of Bell Bay, Tasmania, are being hailed as an important step towards revitalising trade at the Tamar River port.

Australian Bauxite began digging from its Bald Hill Mine near Campbell Town late last year and is expected to export its first shipment later this year.

The company is currently producing more than a thousand tonnes a week and plans to increase to 6000 tonnes a week in the near future, which translates to a run rate of more than 300,000 tonnes per annum.

London based macroeconomic research firm Capital Economics in March said bauxite – the precursor to alumina – was likely to see a price lift thanks to Indonesia’s ongoing export ban, and depleting Chinese stocks.

Until recently, China relied on Indonesia for 70% of the bauxite used to feed its alumina refineries. But Indonesia last year imposed a ban on the export of most ores, in an effort to have miners build refineries – creating jobs – on Indonesian soil.

Australian Bauxite is expecting to make it first shipment, of about 30,000 tonnes, in early September.

Tasmanian resources minister Paul Harriss said bauxite demand is high and the Australian dollar low, providing the opportunity to become a long-term market player.

“We are seeing positive signs across the economy, with the highest business confidence in the nation and a booming construction sector, but we need to do more,” Harriss said.

Tasmanian Logistics Committee chairman Steve Henty said while the amounts quoted were relatively small initially, they represented hope for Tasmania’s export future.

“So we are talking about alumina, bauxite and even containers.

“It’s really good to see a project get up and running.”

The bauxite is to be shipped out in a so-called baby-panamax vessel, an unusually large visitor to a port that has access restrictions due to rock formations near the entrance.

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