From soft drink cans and the cars we drive, to the windows of our homes and offices, and the electricity cables that link our cities together, aluminium is essential in our modern society. It is also an industry in which Australia naturally excels – from the mining of bauxite ore, to refining that ore into alumina powder, and then smelting the alumina to produce primary aluminium metal.
A recently launched project will enable Australia to share its 50 years of expertise in bauxite mining with other countries.This will be particularly relevant to projects where local experience and expertise may be limited, and it will be an important part of maintaining aluminium’s good global reputation.
The Australian aluminium industry is partnering with the Brazilian industry (Brazil is another country with a long history of bauxite supply) and the International Aluminium Institute, to develop guidelines for the sustainable mining of bauxite.
Aluminium’s first century of industrial-scale production, the 1900s, saw an unbroken rise in consumption and the establishment of production superpowers in North America, Europe, Russia and Australia. Now, just 17 years into its second century, the industry has already seen more rapid change than it did in its first 100 years.
Our increasing use of aluminium, particularly in creating more lightweight motor vehicles, shows that the shine hasn’t worn off the ‘wonder metal’. Expansion in China has driven the country to a clear lead in aluminium and alumina production, bringing about a huge shift in the forces that are driving global prices.