federation of aluminium consumers in europe

Aluminium in Europe Newsletter: 4-10 February


FACE Aluminium brings you a roundup of last week’s aluminium news.

Among the latest main news: British aluminium industry is anxious about the UK exiting the EU without a deal, Norsk Hydro and UC Rusal release their latest results. In the world, Nigeria is reopening the country’s only aluminium smelter that has been idle for over a decade, Indonesia is seeking protective trade measure on aluminium foil citing dumping from China, and aluminium is increasingly replacing plastic in the packaging industry.


No-Deal Brexit To “Cripple” UK Aluminium Alloy Industry

With no agreed EU-UK settlement in sight, British secondary alloy producers voiced concern that “hard Brexit” would severely impact their industry. The UK is a major secondary aluminium alloy producer exporting over 1.2 billion euros of aluminium goods to the EU. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, a 6 per cent duty will be imposed on UK aluminium imports into the EU. “You cannot feasibly have any import duty that will cripple your company — you will have to close half your firm,” underlined one British aluminium alloy manufacturer.


Liberty’s Fort William Alloy Wheels Factory Project Steams Ahead

A team of engineers started in-depth ground investigation at the Fort William wheels factory project in the UK. The flagship plant will take aluminium directly from the adjacent Liberty Aluminium Smelter at Fort William and is intended to manufacture around two million wheels a year – covering one fifth of all UK-made cars – from 2022 onwards. Making the announcement, Dr Douglas Dawson – chief executive of Liberty Industries Group – mentioned that while vehicle manufacturing works on long-term productions cycles, there is a lot of uncertainty due to the upcoming UK exit from the EU.


Norsk Hydro Faced Increasing Costs And Slower Production In 2018

The Norway-based Hydro released the latest results showing a weak end to the last year. Hydro blamed the weak performance on the increasing cost in raw material costs due to the curtailment at the 6.2 million tonne a year Alunorte plant – the world’s biggest alumina refinery based in Brazil. The return to full production is now under question after a dam burst in Brazil killing at least 300 people earlier this month. Looking forward to the current year, President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg commented: “For 2019, we expect the global primary aluminium market to be in deficit, although increasing macro uncertainty could lead to softening demand growth.”



Rusal 2018 Sales Down Due To US Sanctions, Production Stays Stable

Rusal – the world’s largest aluminium producer outside China – released its 2018 numbers showing a rise in production of 1.3 per cent while sales volume fell 7.2 per cent. Rusal’s plant utilisation rate at its ten smelting facilities remained stable at 96% in the second half of the year despite the threat of US sanctions. However, the company’s sales dropped by 16.2 per cent. Rusal shares jumped to a 10-month high last week as the company predicted a rising demand in aluminium market that would drive up the metal’s price.



Nigeria Re-Enters The Aluminium Scene

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari will soon reopen the country’s idled Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) enabling the country to produce once more its own aluminium. The company – located on Nigeria’s coast – is currently negotiating to secure a gas contract to power the plant and lobbying the government to be listed as a strategic industry. The facility was closed a decade ago and had an annual capacity of 375 thousand metric tonnes of alumina and 193 thousand tonnes of primary aluminium.


Guinea Seeks To Become World’s Top Bauxite Producer

The Guinean government reaffirmed its commitment to build a thriving bauxite industry in the country. Commenting on the west African country’s ambitions, Guinea’s mines minister Abdoulaye Magassouba said: “We’re working on being the world’s top bauxite producer … and later the alumina leader.” Guinea currently produces 60 million metric tonnes of bauxite and could eventually dethrone the current leaders – Australia and China. At the same time, the country is heavily reliant on foreign investment to build the required infrastructure. The country has recently signed a US$20 billion agreement with China to exchange bauxite access for infrastructure projects.



Indonesia To Seek 22 Per Cent Duty On Aluminium Foil

Referring to a surge in imports from China, Indonesia filed a case with the WTO seeking to impose a 22 per cent “safeguard” duty on imports of aluminium foil to protect its domestic producers. Indonesia says Chinese exports of aluminium foil have been diverted to the country due to protective measures taken by Turkey, the European Union and India. China saw an increase in aluminium foil production in the past three years while the domestic demand did not require extra supply.


China’s Subsidies For Its Aluminium Sector Hurting Global Industry – Alcoa’s CEO

Giving an interview to Bloomberg, Alcoa’s chief Roy Harvey said that China’s support for its aluminium industry is disproportionate to other countries and leads to distortions global supply and demand balances for the light metal. Harvey is seeking to persuade political leaders around the world to tackle the issue of Chinese overcapacity in a coordinated manner. “That playing field simply isn’t level,” Harvey said. “And that in turn means that you’re getting this sucking sound of productive capacity, and now semi-fabricated products, into China. You’re pulling more and more of that primary demand back into China, and it’s only a gain for the Chinese.”



Downstream sector essential to implementing sustainability standards – ASI’s Solomon

Downstream and end-users of aluminium play a crucial role in creating a “pull” for standards programmes in the aluminium industry, said Fiona Solomon – CEO of the Aluminium Stewardship initiative– in an interview with Alcircle. Solomon recognised that there was much diversity within the sector, but pointed out to a shared desire from companies to use aluminium in a sustainable way.


Aluminium Seduces Packaging Companies As Consumers Grow Sceptical Of Plastic

With a growing awareness of the harm that plastic packaging causes to the environment, an increasing number of companies are starting to switch to aluminium. With 75 per cent of aluminium ever produced still in use today, aluminium has little loss of the yield due to its recyclability properties. “We are seeing a significant global trend away from plastic to tin [from both vehicle and beverage can manufacturers]. At this point it is not pushing prices up – it will take another year or two before we see a measurable benefit,” said Richard Jacob, CEO of South African aluminium supplier Hulamin.



American Beer Industry Bearing The Costs Of Trump’s Aluminium Tariffs

Trump’s duties on imported aluminium are putting at risk 20,000 jobs in and dependent upon the beer industry, said in an interview with Hill.TV Jim McGreevy – the chief of The Beer Institute. Speaking against the tariffs, McGreevy pointed out the retaliatory measures by other countries American hurt brewers. “Aluminium tariffs were meant to bring back jobs that had left the country over the last 50 years for lots of reasons other than what’s happening in other parts of the world,” he said.


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