* Guinea bauxite prices jump for China delivery
* Bauxite mines say they are operating normally
* Coup unlikely to have major impact on bauxite exports
JOHANNESBURG, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Prices for aluminum ore
bauxite from Guinea hit their highest in almost 18 months in top
metals consumer China on Monday as buyers fretted about supply
after a coup in the West African country, though no mines
reported any disruption.
Guinea is the world's second-biggest producer of the raw
material that is refined into alumina, a substance used to make
aluminum metal, and is the top supplier to China.
Guinean bauxite for delivery to China was last assessed by
Asian Metal <AM-45GUI-BAUX> at $50.50 a tonne, up 1% from Friday
and the highest since March 16 last year. Prices are up about
16% this year.
The ousting of Guinea President Alpha Conde by an army unit
on Sunday also extended a rally in aluminum prices to
multi-year highs and boosted shares in aluminum producers Norsk
Hydro and Rusal.
The unrest did not have any immediate impact on bauxite
operations, which are key to Guinea's economy as its main
foreign currency earner. The country produced 88 million tonnes
of bauxite last year, according to mines ministry statistics.
"It is highly unlikely that the coup will have any major
short-term impact on exports, which are always at the lowest
part of the cycle in September with stockpiles depleted as the
rainy season comes to an end," said Guinea bauxite industry
specialist Bob Adam.
"Any incoming government will want to make sure that it
doesn't jeopardize future earnings and investment."
Coup leader Mamady Doumbouya on Monday said that a curfew
imposed in mining areas had been lifted.
Guinea's top bauxite producer Société Minière de Boké (SMB)
did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Aluminium Corp of China (Chalco), the
world's biggest producer of alumina, said its bauxite business
in Guinea was operating normally.
Singapore's TOP International Holding, which owns two
bauxite mines in Guinea, said operations were continuing "with
minimal disruption" and the situation at sites in Boke and Boffa
A Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) spokesperson said
its mines had not been affected by the turmoil.
U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa, joint owner of CBG, said
it is monitoring the situation closely and is not aware of
disruption to bauxite exports.
Rusal, which owns the Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK)
in Guinea, did not immediately respond to questions on whether
its operations had been disrupted.
For a graphic on Guinea's bauxite production, click: https://tmsnrt.rs/3l1NSxW
AngloGold Ashanti said its Siguiri gold mine in
Guinea was operating normally.
"We're monitoring the situation and are in close contact
with the leadership of our mine in Guinea, which is operating
normally," the gold miner said in a statement. Siguiri produced
117,000 ounces of gold in the first six months of this year.
The coup casts further doubt on the future for Guinea's many
iron ore mine projects.
Rio Tinto, which is developing part of Guinea's huge
Simandou iron ore project alongside Chinalco, declined to
comment on how the overthrow might affect its plans in the
Andrew Gadd, senior steel analyst at CRU Group, said:
"Sourcing the finances for Simandou has proved very difficult
and the uncertainty generated by the current developments will
challenge the commitment of interested parties."
Guy de Selliers, chairman of the Société des Mines de Fer de
Guinée (SMFG), which is developing the Nimba iron ore project,
said: "Irrespective of who is in charge, they will want this
project to happen because it is good for the country."
De Selliers said that SMFG has political risk insurance
through the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee
(Reporting by Helen Reid; Additional Reporting by Melanie
Burton in Melbourne, Polina Devitt in Moscow, Mai Nguyen in
Singapore and Tom Daly; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Jane
Merriman and David Goodman)