Libmonster ID: JP-1389
Author(s) of the publication: Z. S. NOVIKOVA
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

global reserves Keywords: bauxite mining, alumina-aluminum industriesaluminum multinational corporationsenergy potentialChinaRUSAL

Aluminum has been known to mankind for less than 200 years. The first grams of aluminum were obtained in 1825 by the Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted, and only in 1855 in the form of ingots it was presented at the World Exhibition in Paris, the fruit of the work of the French physicist Etienne St. Clair Deville. Having gone from a decorative metal comparable in price to gold and platinum, it became technically important at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries. In the 20th century, aluminum has become one of the main structural materials (light, corrosion-resistant, with high ductility). The chemical element AL is the most common element of the Earth's surface: its share in the earth's crust is 8.8%, which is 2 times higher than the iron content (4.2%).

The African continent is unique in terms of reserves and quality of ore raw materials for the production of aluminum, one of the most important strategic metals, the growth of consumption of which is dictated by scientific and technological progress.

Steel, aluminum and copper are the three main metals of global industrial production. Although iron remains the main structural material (it accounts for more than 90% of all metal products produced in the world), without non-ferrous metals, primarily aluminum and copper, it is impossible for the modern industry to function. The invasion of aluminum in technology at the beginning of the XX century was primarily due to the development of aircraft construction, and it rightfully earned the reputation of a" winged " metal. Today, it is used as one of the most important metals in the nuclear, chemical, electronic, construction industries, in the production of automobiles, radiators, and in the packaging industry.

A very important advantage of aluminum is that it is much cheaper on the world market than substitute metals*; its use, for example, in the automotive industry, is more environmentally friendly (lightening the car reduces gasoline consumption and reduces carbon dioxide emissions).

At the end of the XIX - first half of the XX centuries, numerous aluminum-containing ores (bauxite, alunite, nepheline, labradorite, kaolin, shale, etc.) were used in industrial production. At the current technical level of aluminum production, only bauxite (they contain from 23% to 67% of aluminum oxide), so named by name, is an economically profitable raw material the town of Les Baux in the south of France, where their deposits were first discovered.

The process of extracting metal from other aluminum-containing ores is extremely complex, time-consuming and expensive due to the low content of the useful component (15-30%) and, on the contrary, a large inclusion of harmful impurities-silicon oxide. The exploitation of such ores can only become profitable as new processing technologies become available.

Aluminum giants have been concerned about this problem for decades, since the United States, in particular, and many other major aluminum - producing countries have almost inexhaustible reserves of aluminum oxide-poor ores. However, sufficient effective results have not yet been achieved in this area.


Bauxite reserves, however, are not unlimited. At the current level of production, 0.8% of the identified reserves are consumed annually. It can be estimated that if the current growth rate of global aluminum consumption is maintained, the known reserves will last for about 50 years.

The world's main bauxite reserves are concentrated in eight regions: Subtropical Africa (Cameroon, Guinea, Ghana, Sierra Leone), South America (Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela), the Caribbean (Jamaica), Oceania and southern Asia (Australia, Vietnam, India, China), and the Mediterranean (Greece)., Kazakhstan, Russia (Ural).

According to the US Geological Survey, at the beginning of 2011, reliable bauxite reserves were distributed as follows (billion tons): in the world - 28; Guinea - 7.4; Australia - 5.4; Brazil - 3.4; Vietnam - 2.1; Jamaica - 2; India - 0.9; Guyana-0.8; China-0.8; Greece - 0.6; Suriname-0.6; Kazakhstan-0.4; Venezuela-0.3; Russia-0.2**; other countries-3.1 1.

The raw material base of aluminum production is concentrated

* In January 2012, global prices were (USD/t): aluminum - 2144, copper - 8040.

** According to other estimates, Russia's proven reserves amount to 1.2 billion tons (see: Vasiliev A.M. Africa and Challenges of the XXI Century, Moscow, 2012, p. 153).

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Distribution of bauxite reserves in the world.

in a small number of countries. Thus, the first five of the above - mentioned bauxite countries account for 72.5% of the world's confirmed reserves. Hence the industry-wide gap between ore extraction and subsequent processing into alumina and metal.

Most developed countries, the main consumers of aluminum, are not provided with their own raw material base for its production. For example, in the United States - one of the world's largest consumers - the existing bauxite reserves could provide less than two years of demand for the metal, so its modern aluminum industry runs 100% on imported bauxite (in the middle of the last century-by 70%).

The aluminum production of the other largest consumer of this metal, Japan, is completely dependent on the import of raw materials. The reserves of high-quality bauxite in Western Europe are being depleted, their insignificant increase is mainly due to deposits with low indicators for development, and the good geological study of the region does not allow us to hope for unexpected major discoveries in the future. Russia and China are experiencing an acute shortage of raw materials for the aluminum industry.

Thus, there are two opposite trends in the global aluminum industry: an abundance of raw materials in the world as a whole, on the one hand, and a shortage of raw materials for processing enterprises of individual countries, on the other.


Since the late 50s of the last century, the African continent continues to be the world's largest holder of bauxite reserves, leaving behind Australia and South America. Then the richest bauxite deposits were discovered in Guinea.

The discovery of geologically promising territories in the Sub-Saharan region has led to increased exploration activities. Bauxite deposits were discovered in a number of new countries: Angola, Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan, Sierra Leone joined the well-known Guinea, Ghana, and Cameroon in the middle of the last century.

Since the first discoveries, reserves have increased tenfold: in 1950, reliable reserves were 0.2 billion tons, in 1980 - 4.6 billion tons 2, at the beginning of the second decade of this century-10-12 billion tons, while the total reserves in this region are estimated from 15 to 20 billion tons 3.

The world's largest bauxite reserves (7.4 billion tons). t) are concentrated within Guinea, which can truly be called a storehouse of this natural wealth: a small country (246 thousand square kilometers, or 0.8% of the area of Africa) concentrates on its territory 26.5% of all known bauxite reserves in the world. In addition, they have a high quality of ores: the best in the content of aluminum oxide (up to 67%), low content of harmful silicon oxide (0.7-4%).

Ore layers occur directly on the surface, or at a shallow depth (0.2-1.0 m), and require a minimum amount of overburden. The presence of bauxite is established in almost all areas of Guinea, with the exception of the forest part of the country. The Bokeh area in the north-west of the country, 200 km from the port of Conakry, is the largest in terms of high-quality bauxite reserves and unique on a global scale.

In Cameroon - 2 billion rubles. t of potential bauxite reserves with the most promising Minim-Martap deposit located in the central part of the country. In Ghana, 6 bauxite-bearing areas are known, located at a distance of 100-160 km from the coast of the Gulf of Guinea (with a total volume of 780 million tons). Sierra Leone has 130 million tons of industrial bauxite reserves in the central and northern parts of the country (total ore reserves, according to some estimates, are 12.4 billion tons).


Bauxite production, which began in 1941 in Ghana in very small volumes (only 2 thousand tons), increased with the discovery of deposits in Guinea and throughout the 1950s was maintained at the level of 450-500 thousand tons per year, which accounted for 1.9% of world production. A sharp increase in production occurred with the commissioning of the Kindia and Sangaredi fields, resulting in production in Guinea reaching 12 million tons (92% of the continent's production) by 1980.

In the 1970s, production growth in Africa was more than 10 times faster than in the rest of the world. The share of the continent increased in 1980 to 22.4%, and Africa came out on the 2nd place in the world (ahead of only Australia). Highest level

page 20

Production in Guinea was reached in 1996 (18.39 million tons).

The reasons for the decline in production in subsequent years were political instability in the country, strikes at mines, the lack of a sufficiently developed electric power base and other necessary infrastructure. Despite the growing global demand for raw materials for the aluminum industry, Guinea is not able to give its bauxite mining industry a steady development momentum. Production in 2010 was 17.4 million tons (83.4% of continental production, 8.2% of global production). In the world, it now ranks 5th after Australia, China, Brazil, and India 4. Production growth in Africa as a whole in 2010 (20.8 million tons, 9.9% of global production) was due to an increase in production in Sierra Leone (2.2 times over the past year). Production in Ghana has been stable for a decade at 0.7 million tons. In the future, bauxite development in Togo is realistic: negotiations are underway to operate the deposit in the Osu area (110 km northwest of Lome).

It is important to develop intra-African cooperation. The Government of Angola, the largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, is investing in a $500 million bauxite project in Guinea-Bissau (3 million tons per year). In addition to the mine, the project includes the construction of the port of Bibo, railways and highways that will connect the port with the Boe field. This is the first major investment in one of the world's poorest countries5.

Africa has a large raw material potential for the development of the bauxite mining industry. The deposits of some countries, however, do not yet represent a great industrial value - either because of the distance from the coast and the lack of the necessary transport infrastructure, or because of the low grade of ore, or because of insufficient reserves for the organization of profitable production.

Putting bauxite deposits into operation in Africa requires large capital investments, since in addition to the equipment of the mine itself, as a rule, it is necessary to create transport, energy, and social infrastructure*, i.e. an industrial zone often grows almost in the "bare" place. A serious factor hindering investment in new projects is political instability, which creates a large risk for investors. First of all, the requirements imposed by foreign companies on international contracts are the reliability of capital investments, long-term ownership, and the impossibility of revising contracts.

Currently, the vast majority of the ore produced in Africa is exported. Guinea is the world's largest exporter of bauxite. Nevertheless, the government's policy is aimed at reducing the export of crude ore by increasing the degree of its processing into alumina, which is ten times more expensive on the world market ($31 and $310 per ton, respectively, in 2010**). Exporting millions of tons of bauxite annually, Guinea has the only plant with an annual capacity of 732 thousand tons of alumina, built more than half a century ago by the French company Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann, in close proximity to the Friya deposit and part of the Phrygia bauxite-alumina complex (BGC Phrygia).

Foreign aluminum companies plan to invest $10 billion in existing projects for the construction of alumina plants in Guinea.7 This is one of the most significant investments ever made in Africa, comparable in size to the largest projects of energy companies.

According to experts of the Canadian company Global Alumina, if all projects are implemented, alumina production in the country can grow many times by 2020, which will make Guinea an important center of the global aluminum industry. Foreign investors, realizing that in the current political situation in the country, the risks here are even higher than in other countries, nevertheless are forced to cooperate, hoping that the importance of the industry for the state's economy and the interest in attracting large foreign investments will force the Government of Guinea to provide favorable conditions for development.

Since 2007, the city of Sangaredi has started implementing missile defense-

* For example, investments in the construction of the Sangaredi complex in Guinea amounted to $316 million, including: the construction of a bauxite mining plant - $200 million, the construction of the port of Kamsar and the railway - $84 million, the construction of the city - $32 million. The complex was put into operation in 1975."


page 21

The project for the construction of a new alumina plant with a capacity of 3.2 million tons of alumina per year, which is planned to be commissioned in 2013. 8 The partners of Canadian Global Alumina are: VNR Billiton, one of the world's largest mining multinational corporations (they each have 33.3% of the shares), Dubai Aluminum Company (25%), Mubadala Development Co -a state-owned company Abu Dhabi (8.4%). This project has an estimated cost of $3 billion. It is considered one of the largest in Africa, capable of transforming the economy of Guinea. And at the same time-one of the most socially responsible in the modern world of business: the possible impact of production on the environment is investigated, compensation is provided to displaced persons for the loss of property in the form of felled fruit trees, two new villages are being built for displaced persons with modern housing, schools, pharmacies, wells and a new city for workers.

The company will become the largest employer interested in training and training professional personnel and improving their skills. Even now, the local population of Sangaredi and surrounding villages are attracted to work as security guards, drivers, and provide various types of manual labor.9


With the discovery of bauxite deposits in Guinea, the largest aluminum multinational corporations - the main consumers of aluminum in the world-immediately rushed here. Together with the Government of Guinea, companies from the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Italy established in 1966 a mixed Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea, which was granted a 51% stake in the Naco Mining consortium that united them.

At the same time, the company received a land concession in the Bokeh area in the north-west of the country with an area of 1200 square meters. km for a period of 75 years with a unique rula quality Sangaredi deposit. Guinea bauxite allowed investors to organize production at very low production costs and provided them with high investment efficiency. Under the agreement signed at the same time, foreign partners received the right to purchase all mine products for 20 years. Alcoa and Alcan are currently among the top ten " bauxite owners "(controlling reserves of 1.89 and 0.38 billion tons, respectively).10.

Bauxite mining in Sierra Leone ended up in the hands of a subsidiary of the Swiss company ALU SUISSE - Sierra Leone Ore and Metal Company. To develop bauxite in Ghana, the mixed company Ghana Bauxite Company was created, in which 55% of the shares were owned by the state and 45% by the British Aluminum Company.

Today, Russia and China, major players in the global aluminum market, are showing great interest in developing bauxite resources in Africa. Russia, which has a rich hydroelectric potential, has become one of the world's largest aluminum producers (3.8 million tons, or 9.3% of the global volume in 2010) - 2nd place after China. At the same time, its reserves and bauxite production are extremely insignificant (respectively, 0.7% and 2.2% of global indicators 11). About half of the ore processed into aluminum is imported from Guinea.

In 2001, the Russian aluminum company Russkiy Aluminum (RUSAL) took over the management of the Kindia deposit in Guinea, which was put into operation in 1975 with the assistance of the Soviet Union and became the full property of the Guinean state. At that time, the state-owned company Office des Bauxites de Kindia was developing 3 million tons of ore per year with a design capacity of 5 million tons, which it was supposed to reach in the late 1990s. However, the company was experiencing serious financial difficulties, production was gradually reduced and in 1999 it was only 1.3 million tons. RUSAL announced an investment program at a cost of $40 million to upgrade the equipment, which would allow maintaining production at 2.8 million tons, with its subsequent doubling 12.

In 2002, RUSAL acquired an 85% stake in Alumina Company of Guinea, the operator of BGC Phrygia. A feasibility study was carried out for the modernization and expansion of the alumina plant's capacity to 1.4 million tons per year. In 2006, the plant became the company's property.

In 2006, RUSAL signed a preliminary agreement with the Government of Guinea to develop the Dian-Dian bauxite deposit, which has estimated reserves of 600 million cubic meters. t or more. Currently, negotiations are underway to develop a new bilateral agreement. According to press reports, RUSAL allegedly intends to limit its production of bauxite to approximately 13 million tons of ore per year. Meanwhile, the Government of Guinea continues to insist on the construction of an alumina plant and a new cargo terminal in the port of Kamsar (noting that otherwise competitors may be attracted who will agree to Guinea's terms).13.

UC RUSAL * * plans to expand its participation in the development of bauxite resources not only in Guinea, but also in other countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, the company is exploring opportunities for developing deposits in Cameroon and Sierra Leone.

The Minim Martap and Ngaundal deposits in Cameroon attracted the attention of aluminum giants in the 70s of the last century. The French company Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann (now Pechiney), the American Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, and the West German Vereinigte Aluminum Werke, together with the Government of Cameroon, created a mixed company Societe d'Etudes des Bauxites du Cameroon (SEBACAM) in order to clarify the reserves and quality of its products.-

* Distribution of shares: Alcoa (USA) - 13.77%, Acap (Canada) - 13.77%, Martin Marietta Aluminum (USA) - 10.2%, Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann (France) - 5.1%, Vereinigte Aluminum Werke (Germany) - 5.1%, Montecatini Edison (Italy) - 3.06%.

** The combined Russian Aluminum Company (OK RUSAL) was formed in 2007 as a result of the merger of RUSAL and SUAL (Siberian-Ural Aluminum Company) and the assets of the Swiss company Glencore International.

page 22

study of the technical possibilities of operation, problems of ore transportation, as well as the profitability of construction of alumina and aluminum plants based on the mines. The construction of the integrated complex was included in the country's five-year economic development plan. However, the deposits are still not being developed, and the main reason is the remoteness from seaports and the lack of roads in the area.

Built in 1971, the Yaounde-Ngaoundere railway did not fully solve the problem of ore transportation, as its capacity is insufficient for transportation in the volume that ensures profitability of production. According to experts, the extraction of bauxite could bring the country a much higher income compared to the income from oil, whose reserves are declining from year to year.

RUSAL, one of the leaders in the global aluminum industry and with a large aluminum smelting capacity, is extremely interested in further developing its raw material base. Therefore, in August 2011, RUSAL signed a memorandum of confidence with the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Technological Development of Cameroon, stating that the company intends to explore the possibilities of implementing mining and metallurgical projects and developing the necessary transport infrastructure. RUSAL's representatives also visited Sierra Leone to determine the prospects for participation in bauxite mining. They assessed the raw material and energy potential, existing transport and energy infrastructure. Negotiations were initiated with government agencies responsible for developing resources and attracting foreign investment in the country's economy.14


The current situation on the global bauxite and aluminum market is characterized by the following main features::

1. Mismatch of resource capacities to the metal needs of major developed countries;

2. Concentration of resources mainly on the territory of developing countries that do not have the financial and production base for their development;

3. Most of the deposits of high-quality bauxite are almost already divided between large mining and aluminum companies;

4. There are new major players on the global market who can make changes to the current state of affairs.

The current situation suggests that in the coming years a struggle for the possession of the resource base is likely, which will cause a redistribution of the bauxite market. The concentration of bauxite reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa puts them at the forefront of meeting the needs of interested countries. Guinea, as the world's largest owner of bauxite reserves, can become a competitive platform for access to its deposits.

China is making a particularly active effort to introduce it to Africa, seeking to become an attractive partner for it in the development of natural resources. The economic presence of the PRC is noted in almost all African countries. In the 2000s. China became Africa's second economic partner after the United States, and then the first, providing the poorest countries with interest - free loans and even gratuitous subsidies. This can be seen as a tactic: by investing in infrastructure and providing financial assistance to African countries, Beijing creates a favorable operating environment for implementation in the extractive industries.

Sub-tropical Africa's ore resources are increasingly under the control of Chinese companies. In 2011, the largest part of the capital was invested in mining and infrastructure. Guinea is one of the countries in the sub-region where China's position is particularly strong.

China has an acute need to import bauxite, although in terms of its own production (40 million tons in 2010), it ranks second in the world after Australia (the share in global bauxite production was 19% in 2010) 15. This need is dictated by very high growth rates of domestic aluminum consumption. In 2010, China is the world leader in metal smelting (40.6% of the total volume)16. At the level of production in 2010, China annually produces 5.3% of the country's existing reserves, estimated at 0.8 billion tons. It is not difficult to calculate that they will be exhausted in 19 years.

The rapidly developing economy, large-scale infrastructure projects, the development of transport communications, and the unprecedented growth of the urban population lead to further high growth in China's aluminum needs.

The last decade of the XXI century demonstrates a huge increase in domestic aluminum production-almost five times. If such dynamics continue, China will have an urgent need to look for new sources of raw materials outside its own country.

Through the Hong Kong-registered China International Fund, the Chinese authorities announced their intention to invest $4.4 billion. (in the future, an increase of up to $7 billion is possible) in the construction of ports, railways, and power plants in Guinea. In exchange for this investment, China becomes a strategic partner in the newly formed state-owned mining corporation and gains access to Guinea's natural resources. An agreement has already been reached that the Chinese state corporation China Power Investment intends to invest $6 billion. with a further increase to $10 billion. in the construction of a bauxite mine and alumina plant in the Boffa 17 area with a capacity of 12 million tons of bauxite and 4 million tons of alumina. Analysts note a high risk of this transaction due to the instability of the political situation in the country*, since in the event of a change of government, the country will not be able to move forward.

* The acuteness of the political struggle is evidenced by the fact that from December 2008 to December 2010, four presidents have replaced each other.

page 23

however, the right to develop the field may be lost.

By expanding its raw material base at the expense of African bauxite, China also has a longer-term perspective in mind. Beijing is also paying close attention to countries with rich energy potential. This is due to the desire to protect itself from global fluctuations in aluminum prices, as it is possible that in the future China will have to increase its metal imports due to a reduction in domestic production. This may occur due to the failure of unprofitable production facilities, which are estimated to account for 31%, due to the high cost of electricity generated from coal-fired thermal power plants.

Cheap electricity is the main component that determines the location of aluminum plants in the world, since this production is one of the most energy - intensive (electricity costs can be up to 45% of costs and even exceed the cost of raw materials)*. Sub-Saharan Africa has large reserves of energy raw materials (oil, gas, coal). The source of hydroelectric power can be its powerful rivers - about 90% of Africa's hydroelectric potential is concentrated in Equatorial and Tropical Africa, i.e. spatially combined with bauxite reserves. To date, only a small part of it has been mastered. In this regard, the organization of aluminum production in DR Congo, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia is very promising.

The global aluminum industry is characterized by a high degree of concentration of production: Four major companies - Corporation of China Ltd (10.8%), OK RUSAL (9.8%), Rio Tinto (9.2%), Alcoa (8.7%) - control 40% of the global aluminum market 18. The industry is characterized by the consolidation of companies through their merger into megastructures in order to avoid acquisitions and strengthen their positions on the global market. It is extremely important for China to create aluminum smelting facilities outside of its own country, so it is no coincidence that its interests include Sub-Saharan African countries with electric power potential.

Raw material hunger in the global aluminum industry will continue to increase. The competition for the redistribution of bauxite sources in Africa involves, along with China Power Investment, the Brazilian mining company Vale, the Russian UC RUSAL, and the United Arab Emirates aluminum company Dubai Aluminum (DUBAL). The countries of the Persian Gulf, seeking to diversify their economies and reduce their dependence on oil exports, are focused on developing aluminum smelting production: the presence of their own cheap energy base and geographical proximity to sources of African raw materials can provide a favorable perspective for the implementation of such plans. Brazil's Vale, together with Billiton's VNR (which combines the capital of Australia's Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Britain's Billiton), intends to start developing bauxite in Cameroon and Guinea. In August 2011, the CEO of Vale, during negotiations with the President of Guinea, A. Conde, declared his readiness to invest in the country's mining industry in strict accordance with the new mining code that had just been adopted19, which assigns the Government a 35% stake in every mining company in the country.

* * *

In the current situation, African countries seek to obtain adequate benefits from the possession of existing treasures. Among the measures taken are attempts to revise previously concluded contracts for the development of deposits that do not meet the interests of the country; requirements for the construction of alumina plants based on deposits in order to increase the degree of processing of raw materials and generate additional export revenues; tightening environmental standards and bringing them closer to international standards; changing the tax and deduction system, which will increase the industry's contribution to GDP.

* With an average global electricity cost of 35%, UC RUSAL's costs are 26% - this is one of the reasons why the company's production is cost-effective even at the price of $1,900 per 1 ton (author's note).

1 Bulletin of Foreign Commercial Information (BIC). N 106. 17.09.2011. P. 15.

2 Productive forces in Africa. Mining industry, Moscow, Nauka Publ., 1982, p. 162.

Lopatov V. V. 3 Export-import potential of African countries, Moscow, 2004, p. 152.

Judging by the wide distribution of the laterite weathering crust of (mostly) Cenozoic age in the region, to which bauxite deposits are confined, further reserves growth is possible in the future.

The weathering crust is laterite (Lat. "laterus" - brick) - formed in tropical and subtropical climates. Due to the presence of oxides and hydroxides A1 and Fe in the upper part of the crust in a dry state, it resembles a baked brick. It often forms red-colored carapaces.

4 BICS. N 106...

5 Africa Research Bulletine: Economic, Financial and Technical Series. Exeter. May 16th -June 15th, 2008. P. 17894.

6 Horoya. Conakry. 1975. N 2156. C 19.

7 Africa Research... September 16'" -October 15th, 2007. P. 17570.

8 Ibidem.

9 Africa Research... March 16th - April 15th, 2007. P. 17347 - 17348.


11 Calculated by: BIKI. N 106..; N 107. 17.09.2011. From 15.

12 Africa South of the Sahara 2009. L., 2009. P. 548.

Helmer J. 13 Guinea ultimatum to Deripaska - php?view=article&id-68%3A120220127&opti on-com_content& Itemid=50


15 BIKI. N 106...

16 Calculated by: BIKI. N 107...

17 China's Aluminum

18 html

19 ha-conde.html


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