I've been googling this for a few days but have not found much definitive data yet. What I want to know is a rough timeline of bauxite mining in South America. Central America would be good too.

Bauxite is aluminum ore, the only economically mineable ore of aluminum known. Bauxite seems to be a relatively rare substance. AFAIK there was only 1 major bauxite mine in the USA, a town in Arkansas which they named Bauxite!

I found this map, which shows current countries that produce bauxite and the production numbers. It does not mean, however, that some other countries used to produce bauxite. It also does not show historical production per country.

I also looked at the websites of a few companies like Alcoa, in the hopes that they might have a history section specifically for each country or region. No luck. I also tried googling phrases like "What was the first bauxite mine in Brazil" without luck either.

What I'm looking for is the data for early mines, the first mines and when were they opened, and preferably yearly production tables and known reserves.

  • 2
    I can't find anything before 2007. Interesting and a surprisingly good question. Thank you for documenting preliminary research - it helps.
    – MCW
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 8:22
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    Here is the history of bauxite mining in Brazil: "The history of Brazilian bauxite in the Amazon began in the mid-1960s with the discovery of the first deposits, located in the eastern part of the state of Pará by the Alcan Company of Canada. Up to the establishment of Mineração Rio do Norte in 1967," Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:12
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    Here is the history of bauxite mining in Jamaica: "During the 1940s exploration and development work was carried out in Jamaica, mainly by Alcan, Reynolds and Kaiser." Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:14
  • 1
    Your search technique requires refinement: first determine possible locations, then conduct searches by country and company. Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 14:15
  • Aluminum is not a rare substance. It is the third most common element in the earths crust. It is more common than iron. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 14:28

3 Answers 3


In South America, bauxite is plentiful in the Guiana shield. A description of the geology can be found in the following monograph:

Aleva, GJJ (1981). "Essential difference between the bauxite deposits along the southern and northern edges of the Guiana Shield, South America." Economic Geology and the Bulletin of the Society of Economic Geologists, 76:1142-52.

Bauxite was first investigated, largely as a refractory and abrasive in British and Dutch Guiana right after World War I. A large mine at Moengo in Dutch Guiana opened in 1922. The Guianas were major sources of bauxite through World War II, and in fact the United States invaded Dutch Guiana for that reason during the war. Production peaked in the 1960s and has declined since then, except in neighboring Brazil into which the geologic formation continues.

In Brazil good quality nodular deposits of bauxite were found in the 1950s in the Trombetas region, and eventually it became economically and politically possible to mine them in 1979 when Mineracao Rio do Norte was formed for that purpose. Since 1979, the Trombetas mines have yielded around 10 million tons per year.


I recently found the League of Nations reports, which report on almost every metal production imaginable.


I chose the report for 1940, though some data is missing in that year due to WW2: http://digital.library.northwestern.edu/league/le0280ah.pdf

For South America (production listed in thousands of metric tons):

Suirname          615 kt (1940)
British Guyana    504 kt (1939)
Brazil            20 kt (1940)

The last LoN Report on that website is for 1944, and no new South American nations were listed for Bauxite production.


The Pittsburgh Reduction Company, later renamed Alcoa, poured its first ingot of aluminum at Shawinigan Falls in Canada on October 22, 1901. Where did the bauxite come from?

  • 2
    Interesting tangent -- this should be its own question. Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 16:02
  • Hello Steve - welcome to History:SE! Can you include a source or two for the answer you provided?
    – Kerry L
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 17:08
  • Questions are not permitted in answers. Fortunately, asking a new question is free. Please move this to a new question.
    – MCW
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 17:48

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