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BRIC countries drive aluminium demand

Global – With China, Brazil and India becoming growth centres for aluminium-based products, the demand for primary aluminium is set to reach 75 million tonnes by 2020, according the International Aluminium Institute.

Production of primary aluminium reached 40 million tonnes last year; around 10 million tonnes of the metal came from recycling industrial scrap and another 10 million tonnes was produced by recycling aluminium. ‘The current supply of aluminium is 60 million tonnes, of which 20 million tonnes is from recycling,’ explains Chris Bayliss, IAI’s Director of Global Projects. ‘However, these 20 million tonnes will remain stagnant and reduce over the years.’

There is a strong demand for primary aluminium in China, Brazil and India as construction, electrification and manufacturing sectors grow at a healthy rate, according to the organisation. China remains the world’s top aluminium producer and consumer, while India’s demand was at its highest ever last year as a result of an 11% rate of growth.

However, concerns surround the production of 75 million tonnes of primary metal by 2020 as capacity additions over recent years have been somewhat muted. ‘China had initially decided to cap the smelting capacity because of various reasons,’ says Mr Bayliss, ‘but now we hear that they will reverse that decision to increase smelting capacity significantly. Only the Chinese have the capability to add smelting capacity in quick time.’

The IAI expects additional smelting capacity to be added in Western Africa (5 million tonnes) and India (2 million tonnes) in the next five years. The supply of bauxite represents another cause for concern; Australia supplies the bulk of this primary mineral for producing aluminium, along with China and Indonesia.

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