Bauxite and Alumina

Bauxite is the vital ore for aluminum, the strategic metal. This ore mainly includes aluminum hydroxides, clays and other insoluble minerals such as silica, iron oxides and so forth. Pure alumina, consumed for aluminum metal production, is preceded from bauxite by Bayer Process. On average, almost two tons of alumina (or 4 tons of bauxite) is needed to produce one ton of aluminum.

In Bayer Process, bauxite is primarily dissolved in caustic soda solution, so that sodium aluminate is formed. Then solid particles of pure aluminum hydroxide are nucleated by cooling the solution. The attained solid aluminum hydroxides are converted to pure alumina by calcination.

Alumina may be distinguished into two different groups of metallurgical and chemical, regarding to its pureness and applications. Global alumina production in 2015 exceeded 115 million tons, in which 109 million tons was metallurgical grade. Australia and Guinea have the most significant deposits of bauxite across the world, possessing 6.2 and 7.4 billion tons, respectively. Nonetheless, Australia with production of 80 million tons bauxite sits the first position, China and Brazil with production of 60 and 35 million tons in the second and third places. Even though China lacks huge bauxite resources, but it was counted one of the top three producers of alumina in the world. It also was the greatest bauxite and aluminum ore importer in 2015, importing about 56 million tons.

Bauxite refinery and alumina production industry was started in Iran since 2003. This industry was commissioned by promotion of United Nations Industrial Development Organization with nominal capacity of 280 thousand tons, to refine both domestic and foreign bauxite reserves. Proven and probable reserves of bauxite in Iran have been stated about 30 million tons until 2016. Since these amounts of reserves are not enough to meet current aluminum industry demands, Iran has aimed to supply from resources in aboard. In line with this, Iran has signed a 99-year agreement with Guinea where Iran can exploit bauxite reserves of central Guinea up-to 600 million tons. At the moment feasibility studies for extraction and transferring of bauxite ore to Iran is implementing.



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