A Guide to the Aluminium Smelting and Manufacturing Sector in Ghana

Ghana, apart from its relative political stability, its economic growth, and its vibrant, thriving democracy, is also renowned for its manufacturing and mining industries spawning sectors such as aluminium processing, gold, diamonds and manganese exportation. The aluminium processing industry is especially a big part of the manufacturing sector due to the bauxite reserves in Ghana. The bauxite ore deposits when mined are exported or smelted in the country to provide alumina for the aluminium industries in the country.

A Brief Background Of The Ghanaian Aluminium Industry

First discovered in 1914 in Atewa Range, bauxite the raw material of alumina was then found in other areas across the country. While presently it is mined only at Awaso, other areas with the ore deposits are Kibi, Ejuanema and Nyinahin.

From Bauxite To Aluminium

The processing of the bauxite to form aluminium, goes through a 4 stage power consuming process which includes mining, refining of the bauxite ore into alumina, smelting of alumina into aluminum ingots which are then finally cast into sheets or col for use in industries. Ghana exports various forms of the aluminium. Bauxite ore is exported to Canada and Scotland. Unfortunately due to the complexity, high cost of production and high power requirement, Ghana has no integrated aluminium industry due to the absence of an alumina plant to produce alumina from the bauxite ore. Local smelters such as the largest and most popular Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO) import alumina to smelt into ingots. Other aluminium production companies such as Aluworks cast ingots into sheets and coils for use. The aluminium is then sold to building and other industries to manufacture door and window frames, corrugated roofing sheets, curtain rails, kitchenware and other aluminium products. Pretty much for every purpose that needs aluminium – for automobiles, automobile parts, aircraft, seacraft, heck, even it’s even the subject that matters to Pumps for Bikes, which are bicycles, pumps, and other sorts of sundries related to biking. One way or another, aluminium is used in such industrial applications.

Old And New Challenges That The Ghanaian Aluminium Indsutry Faces

The industry has been fraught with problems, especially of limited power supply. The processing of aluminium requires cheap continuous power and is supplied by hydro-electric power from the Akosombo and Kpong dams on the Volta River. Poor infrastructure such as a good railway system and lack of government support also limits the growth capacity of the industry. In fact, VALCO and the hydro-electric power supplier, Volta River Authority (VRA) has been embroiled in wrangles over the pricing of power. In 2016, the government invited investors to invest in the mining and processing of bauxite. They were however required to provide their own means of power generation. While plans for an integrated aluminium processing are still underway, Ghana’s government needs to be more involved in addressing the problems facing the industry so as to improve its growth capacity and competitiveness.

All in all, aluminium processing, mining, and manufacturing is one of Ghana’s crown jewels of industry – we’ll discuss more about Ghana’s other industrial highlights in succeeding articles.