CORRECTED-Mali more than triples bauxite reserves estimate to 1.63 bln T
(Corrects reference to Pona as head of Mali's Chamber of Mines
in paragraph 5)
By Tiemoko DialloBAMAKO, April 4 (Reuters) - Bauxite reserves in Mali's Falea
project are now estimated at 1.63 billion tonnes, which is
equivalent to 572 tonnes of refined aluminium following several
new discoveries, the Chamber of Mines said on Tuesday.
The landlocked West African country is trying to diversify
its mining sector away from gold and is pinning its hopes on
Chinese-built rail projects to get base metals such as iron ore
and aluminium out to the Atlantic coast.
Mali is Africa's third largest gold producer, but a spate of
investment deals signed with China totalling about $11 billion
aims to unlock the potential of other minerals -- chiefly, by
building a railway to Guinea's port of Conakry and renovating a
rail link to Senegal's capital Dakar, Mali's main gateway port.
One of the main beneficiaries of this move will be the Falea
mine, the rights to which are currently held by privately-owned
Eurasian Resources Group (ERG).
Abdoulaye Pona, the president of Mali's chamber of mines,
told Reuters the initial estimate of 439 million tonnes at Falea
of ore had been increased by two further discoveries: Bouala,
with 720 million tonnes of bauxite equal to 252 million tonnes
of aluminium and Torolo, with 480 million tonnes of ore yielding
168 million tonnes of refined metal.
"The (project) is just waiting for the start of the
construction of the rails to start the construction of the ramps
connecting the production sites to the main track," he said.
Dialla Konate, ERG country manager, told Reuters they were
"studying the possibility of (using) ... the port of Conakry."
"Moreover, we are considering ... supplying the local market
by truck. We are in talks with local cement manufacturers (who
use bauxite), which means that production could start at any
time," he added.
(Writing by Tim Cocks, editing by David Evans)
Keywords: MALI BAUXITE/ (CORRECTED)