Pres Ali touts prospect for gold refinery, aluminium plant in Guyana

…says tremendous interest in projects ahead of expected energy cost reduction

President Dr Irfaan Ali has not only recommitted his Government to the establishment of an aluminium plant in Guyana, but has revealed that there is intense interest from investors in the setting-up of a gold refinery in Guyana.
Since Independence, Guyana has served as a primary exporter of raw materials. This has been the case for both bauxite, from which aluminium is derived, and gold. Often, the cost of energy has been cited as the reason why more manufacturing has not been done with these raw materials.
In his address at the opening of the 2024 Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo, President Ali noted that the country’s output of gold and precious minerals is expected to expand significantly as a result of effective management of the oil and gas sector. In particular, he disclosed that the Government is seeing tremendous interest in the building of a gold refinery in Guyana.
“With the cost of energy coming down, and with Guyana being a golden country in many ways…With our gold reserve, it makes the gold refinery viable. We are already seeing tremendous interest in establishing a gold refinery here in Guyana,” President Ali explained.
In addition to helping modernise the country, a gold refinery would open up new markets for gold export, as well as boosting production of gold in an effort to meet the growth in demand. It could even attract more international investors to Guyana’s gold mining industry.
All of this, President Ali noted, is part of the trickledown effect of the Gas to Energy (GtE) Project, which is expected to cut electricity costs by approximately 50 per cent. And gold is not the only resource the Government is looking to use to propel the manufacturing sector.
As part of the Government’s strategy to use the GtE project to drive economic growth and increased regional trade, the Government is also exploring options to enhance the bauxite industry.
This includes establishing an aluminium plant in Guyana, which President Ali recommitted his Government to do. The Head of State said that considering Guyana’s estimated US$1 billion in bauxite reserves and the expected drop in energy costs with the GtE project, an aluminium plant in Guyana is very much on the cards.
“An important link to the master plan is bauxite. For years we have been a prime exporter of raw material. Now, with the opportunity the master plan gives us, using gas to do upstream and high-value production, the only disadvantage we have now is the cost of energy.
“To bring down the cost of energy to a cost that makes us highly competitive. So, what does that mean for the bauxite industry? It means now that with our neighbour Suriname and Guyana combined, we have about 1.5 billion metric tonnes of bauxite. That’s the reserve,” he said.

Cost of energy
President Ali noted that once the cost of energy comes down, it will create an opportunity for the country to manufacture its own aluminium, rather than continue exporting bauxite, which Guyana has over 300 million tonnes of in reserve. The last functional aluminium plant Guyana had, which was located in Wismar, Linden, closed its doors in 1981.
“With the natural gas and cost of energy coming down, we can now move to upskill high-value manufacturing in aluminium. Building an aluminium plant to support the deep-water port. This is the value addition. This is the value creation. This is what it opens up,” President Ali said.
Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat had previously indicated that investors were eyeing Tarakuli bauxite deposit near Orealla, in Region Six (East Corentyne-Berbice). He had stated that Tarakuli is one of the largest bauxite deposits remaining in Guyana that is of high quality and untouched. This, he had said, was another reason for the country to establish an aluminium plant. (G3)