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Metro Mining may shut down the Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland for the wet season early if sales don’t pick up over the next month.

The company has not sold bauxite for this year outside of its foundation Xinfa contract, which amounts to 2.3 million wet metric tonnes.

As a result, Bauxite Hills may be placed in an extended period of closure from mid-September through to April next year when it recommences deliveries to Xinfa.

“While negotiations with several refineries continue and are advancing, at the time of release, Metro has been unable to finalise additional sales contracts for calendar year 2020,” the company stated.

“Accordingly, there is no guarantee they will be concluded in time to ensure continual operation of the mine until the end of the planned operating season in mid-December 2020.”

Metro also realised a lower average pricing during the quarter due to deteriorating market conditions in the aluminium supply chain. Although alumina and bauxite prices are improving, the company stated that they remain weak.

The company added that the confidence of consumers to enter agreements had not returned, but it expected much improved conditions next year.

In spite of the news, Metro reached a new shipment record of 536,000 tonnes in June following a month-on-month increase.

This boosted the company’s June quarter shipments to 1.25 million tonnes, exceeding the upper end of its guidance by 14 per cent.

Metro will continue to monitor market conditions prior to proceeding with its expansion plan at the Bauxite Hills. It doesn’t expect this to occur until late next year at the earliest.

The company anticipates its production at Bauxite Hills to hover between 4–4.5 million wet metric tonnes next year.