Aluminium industry

ALUMINIUM INDUSTRY (EN: aluminium industry; DE: Aluminium-industrie; FR: industrie d'aluminium; ES: industria del aluminio; RU: алюминиевая промышленность) is the sub-branch of the non-ferrous metallurgy, which includes the enterprises for the extraction of the aluminium raw materials, and for the production of alumina (aluminium(III) oxide), metallic aluminium, crystalline silicon, fluoride salts, and other products (in total, more than 200 types of products). According to the scales of the production and consumption, aluminium holds the 1st place in the worldwide economy among the non-ferrous metals. There belong to the aluminium raw materials the bauxites, nepheline-apatite and alunite ores, nepheline concentrates. The high-quality quartzites are the raw material for the production of the crystalline silicon, the concentrates of the fluorspar (fluorite) are the raw material for the production of the fluoride salts.

(Table 1) The extraction of the bauxites
Country 1950 1960 1970 1979 1980 1981*
Australia 5 69 9256 27584 27179 25541
Brazil 19 121 390 1642 4152 4660
Haiti - 347 657 560 461 539
Guyana 1168 2511 4417 3354 3052 1907
Ghana 117 194 337 214 197 251
Guinea - 1378 2490 14653 13427 12838
Greece 77 884 2292 2866 3012 3216
Dominican Republic - 689 1086 524 511 406
India 65 387 1333 1951 1785 1912
Indonesia 531 396 1229 1052 1249 1203
Malaysia - 749 1139 387 920 701
Suriname 2045 3455 6022 4741 4903 4006
USA 1356 2030 2115 1821 1559 1510
Sierra Leone - - 449 687 766 612
France 808 2067 3051 1970 1892 1828
Jamaica - 5837 12106 11505 12064 11606
Industrialized capitalistic countries 2416 5399 15025 34276 33675 32124
Developing countries 4463 16068 33748 37431 44014 40954
Total 6879 21467 48773 71707 77689 73078
*Estimation

The origination of the aluminium industry refers to 1886, when there has been invented independently by C.Hall in the USA and by P.Eru in France the method for the obtainment of aluminium by the electrolysis of alumina, which is dissolved within the melt of the fluoride salts. The large aluminium industry emerges from the end of the 19th to the start of the 20th centuries (there has been developed the hydrochemical method for the producing of alumina from the bauxites) in association with the usage of aluminium in the aircraft building, ship building, mechanical engineering, electrical technology, and other industries. Aluminium was produced in 1900 in 6 countries, before the 2nd World War of the 1939-45 in 16 countries, in 1980 in 41 countries, including in 6 countries, which are the CMEA members. The pre-revolutionary Russia had not its own aluminium industry. Its creation in the USSR is associated with the development of the energetic economy. The first large hydroelectrical power station on the Volkhov river has also become the energetic base for the first in the USSR Volkhov aluminium plant (1932), the Dnieper aluminium plant has been launched in 1933 on the basis of the Dnieper hydroelectrical power plant. There were used at these enterprises in the pre-war period the high-silicon Tikhvin bauxites, which have been discovered in 1916 by P.N.Timofeyev. The Boksitogorsk (Tikhvin) alumina plant has been commissioned in 1938, the Urals aluminium plant, where the raw material base of which have become the Severouralsk high-quality bauxites, which have been discovered in 1931 by N.A.Karzhavin, has been commissioned in 1939.

The dynamics of the production and export of aluminium
The dynamics of the production and export of aluminium
Primary aluminium

During the Great Patriotic War of the 1941-45, the aluminium industry has been relocated to the eastern part of the country. There have been commissioned in the Urals and Siberia new bauxite- extracting enterprises. In the post-war period, simultaneously with the restoration of the destroyed enterprises, there have unfolded themselves the works on the expansion of the working and construction of the new aluminium plants. As the result of the targeted searches, there have been uncovered large deposits of the bauxites, nepheline ores, and other raw materials, which are used in the aluminium industry. There sharply increased the technical level of the enterprises, have been developed and implemented new types of the powerful electrolyzers with roasted anodes, and also the new technological schemes for the comprehensive processing of the nepheline-apatite ores and nepheline concentrates into the alumina, soda products, cement, and other products. There has achieved the significant development the aluminium industry in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia.

The aluminium industry of the industrialized capitalistic and developing countries is characterized by the high degree of the monopolization and vertical integration. 81 companies (1982) are engaged in the production of aluminium. The leading position in the aluminium industry belongs to the 6 largest monopolies, which are essentially the transnational companies: "Alcan Aluminium", "Aluminium Co. Of America", "Reynolds Metals Co.", "Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp.", "Pechiney-Ugine-Kuhlman", "Swiss Aluminium"; they control 60% of the extraction of the bauxites, 65% of the production of alumina, and 55% of the production of aluminium. There essentially acts the implicit cartel, which members, namely, the aluminium monopolies, conduct the unified policy of the prices.

The rapid growth of the aluminium industry caused the increase of the extraction of the bauxites in the industrialized capitalistic and developing countries, from 6.9 million tonnes in 1950 to 73.1 million tonnes in 1981 (Table 1).

India and Indonesia are the producers of the bauxites in the Asian developing countries. The share of the industrialized capitalistic countries in the total extraction of the bauxites of the capitalistic world has increased to 47% (25% in 1960), mainly on the account of Australia. The production of alumina in the industrialized capitalistic and developing countries has increased in 1966-81 from 11 million to 27 million tonnes (Table 2).

(Table 2) The production of alumina
Country 1966 1970 1978 1979 1980 1981*
Australia 307 2152 6776 7415 7247 7079
Brazil 68 119 434 449 493 519
United Kingdom 119 107 94 88 102 90
Guyana 302 317 250 280 296 200
Guinea 525 610 622 662 708 679
Greece 73 313 478 496 505 502
India 170 327 488 500 494 489
Italy 270 313 819 854 900 786
Canada 900 1105 1054 824 1202 1208
Suriname 407 1036 1260 1311 1440 1249
USA 5310 6051 6130 6655 7030 6190
France 845 1003 1221 1239 1339 1236
Germany 603 757 1556 1539 1608 1651
Jamaica 804 1797 2142 2074 2395 2506
Japan 662 1285 1767 1822 2218 1619
Industrialized capitalistic countries 9104 13086 1984 20932 22213 21056
Developing countries 2310 4135 5321 5410 6044 5792
Total 11414 17221 25215 26342 28257 26848
*Estimation

Australia is the largest producer. The production of alumina in the developing countries is established mainly in Jamaica, Suriname, and Guinea, and also in Brazil, Guyana, and India. The developing countries, including Guinea, Jamaica, Suriname, and Guyana (approximately 60% of the export), are the largest exporters of the bauxites (Table 3).

Australia and Greece (more than 95% of the export) belong to the major exporters within the group of the industrialized capitalistic countries. The production of the primary aluminium steadily increases (Figure), and is concentrated within the industrialized capitalistic countries (thousand tonnes, 1981): USA - 4489, Canada - 1108, Japan - 771, West Germany - 729, Norway - 636, France - 436, Australia - 379, United Kingdom - 339, Italy - 274, Netherlands - 262. The largest exporters (thousand tonnes, 1981) are: Canada - 726, and Norway - 524; the largest importers are: Japan - 1129, USA - 644, West Germany - 500.

(Table 3) The export of bauxites
Country 1960 1970 1976 1977 1978
Australia 30 3834 7975 8496 7468
Haiti 401 650 616 590 590
Guyana 2129 3052 2805 2571 2278
Ghana 228 338 289 307 367
Guinea 705 811 9488 10324 9373
Greece 906 1235 1511 1781 2079
Dominican Republic 787 1293 627 760 757
Indonesia 348 928 872 1138 911
Malaysia 720 1116 542 653 504
Suriname 3634 3420 2164 2431 2873
Sierra Leone - 445 600 700 700
Jamaica 4214 7725 7227 7004 7124
Industrialized capitalistic countries 1288 5255 9772 10513 9877
Developing countries 13266 19843 25230 26480 25400
Total 14554 25098 35002 36993 35277

The major importers of the bauxites and alumina are: the USA, Canada, Japan, Norway. The USA purchase the ore from more than 10 countries, including Guinea, which accounts for 15-18% of the total import into this country. Canada imports the bauxites from 5-6 countries (Guinea is the main supplier). The western European importers import the bauxites mainly from Australia and Guinea (more than 80% of their needs). Japan purchases the bauxites mainly from Australia (70%). The largest importers of alumina are: the USA (30% of the total import), Norway (13%), Canada (10%), United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Spain. The nationalization of the bauxite-extracting enterprises is conducted since the start of the 70s within the developing countries. Many bauxite-extracting countries have sharply increased at the middle of the 70s the taxes on the extraction of the bauxites. There has been created by these countries the International association of the bauxite-extracting countries, which mission is the struggle for the rational usage of the bauxite deposits, the payment of the fair share of the income from the exploitation of the bauxites for the benefit of the extracting countries, the limitation of the influence of the international companies, the establishment of the relations between the producers and consumers on the basis of the complete equality and mutual profit, the creation of their own aluminium industry, the conduct of the uniform policy in the field of the prices of the bauxites and of the taxation of the bauxite-extracting enterprises.