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Ghana seeks strategic partner to rebuild VALCO aluminum smelter

Ghana is on a roadshow to find a strategic partner to “revamp” state-owned Volta Aluminum Company’s (VALCO) aluminium smelter.

Ghana Lands and Natural Resources minister Samuel Jinapor made the announcement and said the country which has ample reserves of aluminium ore bauxite, aims to create an integrated aluminium industry in the country.

“Today we are insisting that exploration, prospecting, mining, refining, smelting, the downstream industry, all of it must be in Ghana,” Jinapor said.

Domestic processing capabilities

Ghana’s push to expand domestic processing capabilities echoes a move by Africa’s top bauxite producer, Guinea, which is requiring miners to build alumina refineries in the country. Jinapor did not specify how much the government is looking to get from a strategic partner to fund the smelter upgrade.

Ghana’s mining sector pre-dates the colonial era. Historically, Ghana was known as the Gold Coast.  Ghana is Africa’s largest gold producer; it overtook South Africa in 2019 with 4.8 million ounces in output. Gold is the most commercially exploited mineral in Ghana, accounting for about 95% of the country’s mineral revenue. Other commercially exploited minerals in Ghana are manganese, bauxite, and diamonds.

The country is also endowed with deposits of iron ore, limestone, columbite-tantalite, feldspar, quartz, and salt, and there are also minor deposits of ilmenite, magnetite, and rutile.  In 2018, Ghana discovered commercial quantities of lithium and hopes to attract investors to mine and develop lithium mining and processing.

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