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Algeria emerges as China’s leading iron ore supplier in Africa

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Algeria, Africa’s largest country, is poised to transform into a major iron ore supplier for China, reducing Beijing’s reliance on Australian imports crucial for its steel industry.

Rich in minerals, Algeria mines a variety of metals and industrial minerals, with iron ore emerging as its flagship resource. The Gâra Djebilet deposit in Tindouf province boasts reserves of 3.5 billion metric tonnes, with 1.7 billion exploitable, containing 90% iron — one of the world’s largest deposits.

Despite its vast potential across 2.38 million sq km, Algeria’s mining sector contributes just 1% to GDP, prompting strategic initiatives to diversify. Key projects include Gâra Djebilet’s iron ore development with an integrated steel plant, the Bled El Hadba phosphate project in Tébessa, and the Tala Hamza zinc-lead deposit near Bejaia. The nation also pursues rare earth elements, prized globally.

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With a population of 46.6 million, Algeria’s 2024 GDP is estimated at $267 billion, fostering economic growth targets despite challenges like inflation and debt. A $7-10 billion investment pledge in Gâra Djebilet underscores ambitions to extract 2 million metric tonnes annually by 2026, scaling to 50 million tonnes by 2040.

Algeria’s strategic partnership with China includes joint ventures aimed at operationalizing Gâra Djebilet and constructing infrastructure, including a 6,000 km railway network connecting the mine to industrial zones and national rail networks. Challenges like high phosphorus levels in the ore necessitate advanced processing solutions.

Ouenza, another major iron ore deposit, supports Algeria’s domestic steel industry, further enhancing its role in global mineral supply chains.

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