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Volume 28 No. 2 – March/April 2016 Editorial Editor: Nadine Firth Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855115 nadinefirth@quartzltd.com











Consulting Editor: Tim Smith PhD, CEng, MIM Production Editor: Annie Baker

www.aluminiumtoday.com March/April 2016—Vol.28 No.2


Sales Sales Manager: Anne Considine anneconsidine@quartzltd.com Tel: +44 (0)1737 855139


USA US extrusions market overview

Sales Director: Ken Clark kenclark@quartzltd.com Tel: +44 (0)1737 855117


GULF Looking at the GCC at large

Advertisement Production Production Executive: Martin Lawrence


Managing Director: Steve Diprose Chief Executive Officer: Paul Michael

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Ron Knapp

AFSA: Spotlight on South Africa

BAUXITE Cover picture courtesy of EGA



Supporters of Aluminium International Today


Management and use of bauxite residue


Developing bauxite projects


Bauxite waste disposal


Lowering environmental impact




Energy optimisation: A plant-wide focus


Enhancing long-term drivers for sustainability

ALUMINIUM INTERNATIONAL TODAY is published six times a year by Quartz Business Media Ltd, Quartz House, 20 Clarendon Road, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 1QX, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1737 855000 Fax: +44 (0) 1737 855034 Email: aluminium@quartzltd.com



Contents Template.indd 1


High-grade metals from recycling


How to achieve a sustainable casthouse


Event preview


Exhibitor profiles


© Quartz Business Media Ltd 2016

Aluminium International Today

Towards sustainable cities


Aluminium International Today (USO No; 022-344) is published bi-monthly by Quartz Business Ltd and distributed in the US by DSW, 75 Aberdeen Road, Emigsville, PA 17318-0437. Periodicals postage paid at Emigsville, PA. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Aluminium International c/o PO Box 437, Emigsville, PA 17318-0437. Printed in the UK by: Pensord, Tram Road, Pontlanfraith, Blackwood, Gwent, NP12 2YA, UK




Extrusion industry answers


ET ‘16 Preview


Temperature management of containers


Raising the bar in UK extrusion March/April 2016

3/21/16 10:39 AM


Bonnell investment

Competitive nature I’m the first to admit that I have a competitive streak. It usually comes into full force when a new face joins my early morning spinning class and I am overcome by the urge to show them how it’s done. I’m not proud, but who doesn’t enjoy feeling a little bit smug? Competition is everywhere, along with the constant need to better one’s self or the way we live, work and play. The US extrusion industry is a current example; while demand growth is expected to moderate across the year, supply issues and economic concerns are keeping the market competitive. To explain more and in light of the upcoming ET’ 16 show, there’s a market overview on page 9. Extrusions are also part of a push for closed loop or cradle-to-cradle recycling, which brings me nicely onto our next feature; Sustainability. With AluSolutions just around the corner (10-11 May), this issue includes a preview, as well as articles on aluminium in green buildings (page 43), recycling and sorting technologies (page 48) and a case study on developing a sustainable casthouse (page 50). There is also an Association Update from AFSA on page 17, an extensive bauxite feature with a look at developing bauxite projects (page 25) and waste disposal techniques (page 32). Last, but not least, I caught up with the delightful Ron Knapp, Secretary General of the International Aluminium Institute to ask him a few things (page 8). I hope you enjoy the issue.

Bonnell Aluminum, a subsidiary of Tredegar Corporation (NYSE:TG), will be investing approximately $18 million over the next 12 months to fund an expansion project which will include the purchase of a new aluminium extrusion line at its AACOA facility in Niles, Michigan. Planned startup is the second quarter 2017. “With continued growing demand from our customers, it is exciting to invest in this additional capacity, knowing that we will satisfy these opportunities with

the high quality products and services that AACOA is known for in the industry,” commented Brook Hamilton, President and General Manager for Bonnell Aluminum. “Our facility in Niles is ideally suited for this project, with a wellrun operation and a great team in place.” “AACOA has a solid market reputation and is highly regarded as a leader in the markets it serves, primarily consumer durables and machinery and equipment. The Niles facility also serves the automotive market due to its regional

location,” added Ira Endres, Vice President, Sales and Marketing. “It makes sense to increase the capacity in Niles based on demand from our customers.” The new line will be comprised of a 3,600-ton extrusion press, housing a 9-inch container, handling systems and ancillary equipment. Capacity is estimated at approximately 16 million pounds. The project also includes additional floor space to accommodate future value-added fabrication capacity.

Hydro to build technology pilot Hydro has made a formal build decision for the planned full-scale technology pilot at Karmøy, Norway, aiming to verify the world’s most climate and energy efficient production of primary aluminium. Total costs are estimated at NOK 4.3 billion, consisting of net project costs of NOK 2.7 billion and around NOK 1.6 billion in support from Enova. The first metal from the technology pilot is expected during the second half of 2017. “After several successful improvement programmes, the next steps in our efforts to further strengthen our cost curve position will increasingly rely on our ability to advance our industry-leading position in technology and innovation,” says Hydro president and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg. “The Karmøy technology pilot will play a key role in realising this ambition, ensuring that the Norwegian technology cluster remains the global leader in sustainable

aluminium production.” With the pilot project, Hydro aims to industrialise the world’s most climate and energy efficient aluminium electrolysis technology. The ambition is to reduce energy consumption by around 15% per kilo aluminium produced compared to the world average, with the lowest CO2 footprint in the world. In addition, the implementation of technology spin-offs to existing production lines are expected to improve productivity in the current primary aluminium portfolio, contributing to Hydro’s capacity creep ambition of an additional 200,000 tonnes per year by 2025. The technology pilot is designed with an annual production capacity of approximately 75,000 tonnes, consisting of 48 cells with 12.3 kWh/Kg HAL4e technology and 12 cells with 11.5-11.8 kWh/kg HAL4e Ultra technology. Total costs are estimated at NOK 4.3 billion, consisting of net pro-

ject costs of NOK 2.7 billion and around NOK 1.6 billion in support from Enova. The project costs are adjusted for inflation and currency developments since the investment decision was announced in February 2015. An overall power solution in Norway includes new competitive power contracts for Hydro’s existing portfolio and the Karmøy pilot, and a pending decision from Norwegian authorities regarding industrial ownership of power within the current consolidation model. This would enable private minority shareholders in power production companies to take out dividends as physical power off take, rather than being limited to just receiving financial dividends. Hydro’s investment in the Karmøy technology pilot is the largest, single investment in Norwegian mainland industry outside the oil and gas sector since Hydro expanded the Sunndal aluminium plant in 2002-2004.

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INDUSTRY NEWS - HEADLINES 3 APPOINTMENTS Sapa: New business area president

Alba: Ultra upgrade Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) has upgraded the technology for its Line 6 Expansion Project from EGA DX+ to the EGA DX+ Ultra. The upgrade to the EGA DX+ Ultra Technology will boost Alba’s production to 540,000 metric tonnes per annum (mtpa), an increase of 26,000 mtpa versus prior projections. This will bring Alba’s total production capacity to approximately 1,500,000 mtpa making Alba the largest single site smelter in the world. The DX+ Ultra Technology will improve energy efficiency, which in turn will allow Alba to increase its metal production with no increase

in overall energy consumption. Alba’s Line 6 Expansion Project timeline remains on track with “first hot metal” scheduled for 1st January 2019. Commenting on the upgrade, Alba’s Director for Line 6 Smelter Project and Engineering, Shawqi Al Hashimi said: “We are very fortunate to have EGA as a partner in the Line 6 Project. “The upgrade to DX+ Ultra Technology is a game changer that will allow Alba to increase output through the use of low energy consumption technology and further strengthen Alba’s position as a leading, low cost producer.”

Alcoa delays curtailment Alcoa will delay the curtailment of its Intalco Works smelter in Ferndale, Washington until the end of the second quarter of 2016. The plant was initially scheduled to curtail by the end of the first quarter. The company announced a full curtailment of the Intalco smelter (230kmt) on November 2, 2015, with the plant’s casthouse continuing to operate. However, recent changes in energy and raw material costs have made it more cost effective in the near term to keep

the smelter operating to provide molten metal to the plant’s casthouse. Once all announced curtailments and closures are complete, the company will have removed approximately 25% operating smelting capacity and approximately 20% of operating refining capacity by mid-2016, and Alcoa globally will have 2.1 million metric tons of operating smelting capacity and 12.3 million metric tons of operating refining capacity remaining.

New Travartec plant Travartec has opened a 12K-ton production capacity plant in Rodengo Saiano (Brescia), to focus on aluminium conductors for automotive applications. The plant covers a 5,000m2 area and is equipped with a brand new 12K-tpa capacity line for the production of aluminium and aluminium alloy conductors and is focussed to develop technological Aluminium International Today

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materials for the automotive sector. The engineering and research division is crucial for the company since it develops turnkey technological solutions in close association with the production and quality departments to meet the customers’ needs at top quality levels.

Sergio Luiz Vendrasco (below) is the new president of Sapa’s Precision Tubing business area, the area in Sapa providing aluminium solutions for heat transfer applications to the automotive and HVAC&R industries.

president, aluminium and mesh belt equipment. Donofrio has a proven track record developing and executing comprehensive sales plans in his work on these furnace product lines. His leadership skills and vision are well suited to lead CAN-ENG Furnaces’ sales team and continue to develop our product offering with innovative, flexible and cost effective heat treatment solutions. Tim will have overall responsibility for CAN-ENG Furnaces’ Sales Department.

Norton Aluminium

Vendrasco has been appointed business area president of Sapa Precision Tubing, succeeding Salvador Biosca, who has taken over responsibility as business area president for Sapa Building Systems. Vendrasco will take up his new position on March 1, reporting to Sapa’s President & CEO Egil Hogna and serving as part of the corporate management team.

Norton Aluminium has appointed Trevor Bird (below) as the new general manager. The appointment was made toward the end of 2015 as part of a restructuring and strengthening of the Norton Aluminium management team. Bird, previously the company’s production manager has worked for Norton for three years, in the sector for nine years and brings with his appointment a wealth of smelting and recycling knowledge.

UC Rusal: Marketing Director, Sustainability UC RUSAL has appointed Jerome Lucaes as marketing director, sustainability. Lucaes will be responsible for leveraging RUSAL’s product stewardship and sustainability credentials including, but not limited to, the low carbon footprint of the company’s smelters. “We recognise that our customers are increasingly concerned with supply chain product stewardship and through Jerome’s appointment RUSAL has the opportunity to deliver significant value to consumers with our low carbon production footprint and commitment to sustainability practices,” Vladislav Soloviev, RUSAL’s CEO, commented.

CAN-ENG organisational changes Tim Donofrio has been promoted to the role of vice president, sales, CAN-ENG Furnaces International Limited. Mr Donofrio has held progressively responsible roles with CAN-ENG Furnaces over his 17 year tenure, most recently as vice

Rio Tinto Board changes Richard Goodmanson, nonexecutive director of Rio Tinto, who joined the board in December 2004, will be retiring from the board this year. Richard will not seek re-election as a non-executive director of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Limited and will retire from the board at the conclusion of the Rio Tinto Limited annual general meeting in Brisbane on 5 May 2016. Megan Clark will be appointed as chairman of the Sustainability Committee upon Richard Goodmanson’s retirement on 5 May 2016, and will also become a member of the Remuneration Committee with effect from 1 May 2016.

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CONTRACTS SNC-Lavalin/EGA SNC-Lavalin has been awarded an engineering services contract by Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) to provide operations support services to EGA’s two aluminium smelters in the United Arab Emirates – namely Emirates Aluminium (EMAL) and Dubai Aluminium (DUBAL). The company will provide engineering packages and manpower services to DUBAL and engineering and project management services to EMAL Engineering to ensure optimal delivery of a portfolio of projects and operations support. Alcoa fourth Boeing contract Alcoa has announced a longterm supply agreement with Boeing for multi-material aerospace parts. Under this agreement, Alcoa will supply components for the 777X - Boeing’s newest commercial airplane - the 737 MAX - scheduled for first delivery in 2017 - and the 787 Dreamliner. The deal draws on capabilities gained through the Firth Rixson acquisition and the company’s new aluminium-lithium facility in Lafayette, Indiana.

Hydro signs power contract Norwegian aluminium company Norsk Hydro ASA’s fully owned subsidiary Hydro Energi AS has signed a longterm power contract with Nordic Wind Power DA, a Norwegian wind power consortium, for annual baseload supply of between 0.6 and 1 TWh in the period from 2020 to 2039. For up-to-date news & views www.aluminiumtoday.com March/April 2016

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Novelis ups recycled content Novelis has announced that its RC5754 alloy, a new automotive product designed to contain up to 75% recycled content, has been successfully integrated into the structural components of high volume production passenger vehicles. RC5754 was developed with Jaguar Land Rover and serves as a key component of Jaguar’s RE-

ALCAR (REcycled ALuminum CAR) project. First introduced in the new Jaguar XE, the RC5754 alloy will also be featured in all new and legacy Jaguar Land Rover models. “As a leader in alloy innovation and aluminium recycling, Novelis is honoured to work with Jaguar Land Rover to help lead the automotive industry in sustainable ve-

hicle manufacturing,” said Pierre Labat, Vice President, Automotive, Novelis Europe. “Novelis’ new RC5754 alloy not only meets the high recycled content threshold required by Jaguar Land Rover’s REALCAR project, but also it delivers the strength, durability and formability specified by world-leading Jaguar Land Rover engineers.”

Recovery signs in scrap recycling The recent Bureau of Metal Recycling (BMR) Conference in Dubai stressed that the scrap recycling industry is showing signs of recovery across the globe. However, it admitted that the industry is not without challenges. Salam Sharif, President, BMR called upon global recycling industries to join together in fighting the challenges so as to overcome times of hardships. The 5th BMR International Conference 2016 was held at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai from 19th to 20th, February. The conference was attended by more than

450 recycling professional and industry experts. The event was attended by representatives from UAE-based environmental organisations. It was also attended by delegates from world recycling organisations including the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and the Metal Recycling Association of India (MRAI). The meeting highlighted the latest developments in the global scrap market and environmental issues facing the industry. Salam Sharif, while highlighting on BMR and its achievements, not-

ed that the recycling industry has a key role to play in combating the threat of global warming. There were presentations on various topics including global overview of the recycling industry, Middle East and North American market dynamics and challenges. The conference also featured a special presentation on how recent changes in Chinese economic situation have impacted metals trade. Mr Sharif will be presenting at the upcoming AluSolutions conference on the importance of the Middle East in the metal scrap trade.

Beverage can recycling new high The overall recycling rate for aluminium beverage cans in the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland increased by 1.8% to a new record level of 71.3% in 2013. European Aluminium considers this result an important milestone on its path towards its voluntary recycling target for used beverage cans of 80% by 2020. From its first introduction more than 50 years ago, the aluminium beverage can has been an integral

part of the Circular Economy. It is infinitely recyclable without loss of its properties and its value. This makes it the ideal packaging solution to help achieving the new ambitious EU recycling targets proposed for the years 2025 and even 2030. Through its joint awareness programme with the can manufacturers, Every Can Counts, European Aluminium is successfully addressing the collection and re-

cycling of so called “out-of-home” cans; cans consumed at the workplace, at festivals or other outdoor events.

TOMRA launches sorting machine TOMRA will launch an enhanced X-Tract X-ray sorting machine at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) 2016 Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas. According to the company, in its newly re-launched format, the

X-tract “is an even more powerful and efficient sorting tool.” The machine is now equipped with a new sensor designed to boost its performance and stability. TOMRA says the X-tract has

been enhanced to secure higher metal recovery purity, fewer product losses and a consistent product quality. Additionally, salable byproducts can be recovered.

Aluminium International Today

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Ozeos, the ultimate scrubbing technology, ensures the lowest emissions and a richer alumina for the benefit of your smelter operation. Thanks to the significant improvements achieved in terms of environmental, maintenance and operational performance, the Ozeos dry scrubber module was awarded the Fives Engineered Sustainability label in 2014. It combines a low velocity integrated reactor and long filter bags into an optimized footprint. In comparison with other state-of-the-art technologies, Ozeos is 5% less energy consuming. Its maintenance is easier and emissions are further reduced by 20%.



Toyota aluminium engines

LME: New ring The London Metal Exchange (LME) has unveiled the newly built Ring, the Exchange’s open-outcry trading floor, after successfully relocating to 10 Finsbury Square in London on 1 February 2016. The Ring has provided a transparent and robust pricediscovery process for the global metals industry for 139 years. Its move to a new building at Finsbury Square is the next step in the modernisation of the metals exchange, which was acquired by HKEX in 2012.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indonesia, a local unit of the Japanese automotive giant, has inaugurated its fifth factory in the country at the Karawang International Industrial

City in West Java. The opening marks a significant milestone for Indonesia after the country took control of its domestic aluminium supply three years ago,

as part of its aspiration to to add more value to its natural resources. The factory will produce aluminium-block engines, known as R-NR, for domestic and Asian markets.

Rexam supports


Rexam has joined forces with craft brewer, Southside Brewing Company, to produce its first ever canned Western pacific IPA. The move from glass bottle to aluminium highlights the company’s dedication to sustainability. Based in Sweden, Southside Brewing Company uses unique

brewing techniques and ingredients imported from the West Coast of America. The 330ml cans, manufactured out of Rexam’s Swedish Malmö plant, will be available from February 2016 in select regions and retail channels throughout Sweden including System Bolagate.

Smart Sapa Foil packaging boom Alcoa admired For the fifth consecutive year, Alcoa has been named the most admired metals company by Fortune magazine in its annual ranking on corporate reputation. The ‘Most Admired’ ranking is based on surveys of executives, analysts, and directors who rate companies in their own industries.

Fort William to review operations Workers at the aluminium smelter at Fort William, Scotland (pictured) have been told that the owners are reviewing its operations. The plant is one of the largest employers in the area. It is thought to support more the 160 full-time jobs. The smelter is Rio Tinto’s only operational site in the UK and is unique in that it generates its own power from two hydro electric schemes.

Sapa Building System is bringing to market a sliding door system Confort Smartline. The energy efficiency provided by this thermally broken aluminium sliding system has helped Confort earn the Minergie certificate for sustainable buildings. To illustrate, the system’s aluminium profiles are connected through 50mm polyamide strips reinforced with glass fibre. These polyamide strips are specially designed to improve thermal values without the need for extra inserts in the profiles. The larger cavities between the profiles are insulated with customised PE strips.

According to reports, the food packaging industry is booming because of the requirement of foodon-the-go. The global packaging industry is expected to grow to $820 billion by 2016, with the Indian packaging industry, growing at roughly 15% annually, estimated to become the fourth-largest in the world, with revenues of $43.7 billion in 2016. In a competitive world, packaging design and construction play a significant role in increasing revenues for the hospitality industry, mostly out of ready-to-eat food and beverages segments.

The changing pattern of the consumption of food and beverages has been creating fresh demand for traditionally used packaging materials such as glass, aluminium, silver foils, tins, paper, paper boards and plastic. With the recent increase in interest across the hospitality industry and the growing tilt towards packaged food, the demand for aluminium foil as a packaging material has been on the rise. The entire food processing chain needs to focus on innovation and collaborations to ensure that food safety is maintained and end-customers get the best quality.

2016 DIARY May 02 - 06 ET’ 16* Addresses aluminum profile production, die design and technology, metallurgy, equipment, and product applications. www.ET16.org

09 - 13 Rolling Technology Course

09 - 11 CRU World Aluminium*

17 - 20 Metal+Metallurgy China*

Focus on smelting, recycling, rolling, extruding, trade, raw materials, purchasing, technology and finance. www.crugroup.com

The combination of foundry and metallurgical equipment and the end products provides a most comprehensive display of productivity solutions for the metal industry under one roof. www.mm-china.com

10 - 11 AluSolutions 2016*

The only free-of-charge exhibition June and conference dedicated to 07 - 09 discussing sustainable aluminium HARBOUR’S 9th Outlook* production and processing The most strategic aluminum technologies. market gathering in the world. www.alusolutions.com www.harboraluminumsummit.com *Pick up a free copy of Aluminium International Today at this event

Hosted by Innoval Technology, the course covers all the key aspects of hot and cold aluminium rolling. http://www.innovaltec.com

For a full listing visit www.aluminiumtoday.com and click on Events Diary March/April 2016

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Aluminium International Today

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2 minutes with…

Ron Knapp

Consultancy and technical support to the aluminium industry • Build long-term partnerships with our aluminium experts • Solve your current aluminium production problems • Prepare a downstream business case • Detailed investigation and testing

1. How did you get into the aluminium industry? I was appointed Executive Director of the Australian Aluminium Council (AAC) in January 2002, after five years as Chief Executive of the World Coal Institute and a decade with the Minerals Council of Australia, where the portfolio included aluminium. From the AAC, I was recruited to my current role as Secretary General at the International Aluminium Institute. 2. First and last jobs of the day? Reading the overnight email traffic (our member companies span all time-zones) while watching the 6am news. Last task is to check all issues of the day have been addressed or are listed for future action and say goodnight to Martina, our Cleaner. 3. Biggest topic that needs addressing in the industry? We must demonstrate that our industry produces in a responsible manner, by mitigating environmental impacts and delivering economic prosperity and social benefits where it operates; that, through their use and the services they deliver, our products bring a net benefit to society in terms of reduced environmental impact and improved quality of life; and that, at the end of those products’ lives, the value of the metal is retained through collection and recycling/re-use March/April 2016

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or energy recovery. 5. Best piece of advice? Treat everyone with respect – and listen to everyone. 6. Something we don’t know about you? My favourite thing is to spend time on the farm near Sydney, where I was born, with my small herd of Hereford and Hereford-Limousin cattle. 7. Proudest moment? My daughters graduating from university, their personal and professional success – and the arrival of two grandchildren in the last four years. 8. Individual you most admire? An organisation of individuals who volunteer: Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), an international NGO of volunteer doctors, nurses and other professionals who provide medical care in acute global crises and disasters. 9. Funniest work memory? A morning of calamities in China that involved a car crash, a 3km walk across a bridge (the last half in the pouring rain), terrifying a number of restroom users with our pasty London bodies as we changed out of our soaking wet suits into dry suits, all in time for me to open a conference. 10. Last TV series you watched? “The Blacklist” 

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USA UPDATE 9 Photo courtesy of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.

US extrusions: Market overview

While U.S. aluminium extrusion demand continues to step up, demand growth is expected to moderate somewhat this year at the same time as certain supply issues and concerns about future economic growth keep the market very competitive. Myra Pinkham* explains “The North American extrusions market is already riding a five year high,” which was achieved last year while recovering from its deep decline during the Great Recession, observes Jack Pell, vice president of Commercial Sales for SAPA Extrusion North America. “Companies are now finally getting back to normal and even adding inventories,” he declares. Its rate of growth, however, is expected to ease somewhat this year. Such softening began in the fourth quarter, partly because of seasonality but also because of an easing of consumer confidence, an executive at a major U.S. aluminium extruder says, pointing out that consumer spending accounts for about 70% of U.S. GDP growth. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 92.2 points in February from 97.8 points in January. The Conference Board reports that not only were consumers more pessimistic about the short-term outlook, but an increasing percent – 12% vs. 10.7% a month earlier – are expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months. While still doing better than many other regions of the world, the U.S. economy only grew by an annualised rate of 1% in the fourth quarter compared with 2% GDP growth in the third quarter. Also, the U.S. purchasing managers’ manufacturing index, as reported by the Institute for Supply Management, has been below 50% (therefore indicating that the sector is contracting), since October. The architecture billings index, which is seen as a leading indicator of construction activity nine to 12 months in the future, has been hovering at the dividing line between expansion and contraction,

falling to 49.6 points in January, after a generally positive performance in 2015. This, says Kermit Baker, chief economist with the American Institute of Architects, is despite “mostly sound” construction fundamentals. “January was a rocky month throughout the economy with falling oil prices, international economic concerns and steep declines in stock market valuations in the United States and elsewhere. Some of the fallout of this uncertainty might have affected progress on design projects,” he says. The extruder said it remains too early to know for sure what will happen in 2016. “There continues to be some opportunity for growth, but not as much as there was last year,” he says.

Jack Pell, vice president of commercial sales for SAPA Extrusion North America

Extrusions demand in Canada is somewhat stronger than it is in the United States, according to Robert Peacock, president of Almag Aluminum. “The weaker Canadian dollar (versus the strength of the U.S. currency) has helped

to make our local customers busier,” he explains. Still, while end use demand there is good, “It hasn’t been going like gangbusters,” Peacock admits. “I think that 2016 will be another good year for the U.S. extrusions market,” says Timothy Hayes, a principal at Lawrence Capital Management. “Growth might not be quite as strong as it has been in the past two years but the industry will continue to build upon what has been a number of good years for extruders.” The rate of growth has already started to ease slightly. Hayes says that last year domestic extrusion shipments increased 5% to nearly 5.5 billion pounds. That follows an 8% rise in 2014. Hayes says that in 2016 extrusion shipments will likely grow another 4% to nearly 5.7 billion pounds. He says that the automotive sector will account for over a quarter of that growth with aluminium extrusions, like sheet, benefiting from the auto OEMs’ push to lighten the weight of their vehicles. This trend is not only true for soft extrusions, which account for most of the market. The hard alloy extrusions used for aerospace applications are expected to continue slow, with steady gains of approximately 3 to 4% year in 2016, similar to the growth rate it has seen in recent years, according to Ken Cooke, Vice President for Global Aerospace at Castle Metals. This, Cooke says, is largely driven by the strength in the commercial aerospace sector, where aircraft build rates have continued to increase and are expected to continue to do so for the next several years. On the other hand, he expects build rates for defense aircraft to remain

*US Correspondent Aluminium International Today

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Photo courtesy of Global Aerospace

fairly flat as some military programmes are ramping up while others are being discontinued. Strength in the commercial aircraft sector is not only the result of passenger traffic, but also due to greater freighter conversions bolstered by increased volumes from such less than truckload (LTL) carriers as United Parcel Service and Federal Express, Cooke points out. Demand, however, varies greatly between the extruded rod and bar segment, which declined by approximately 5.5% in 2015 and the 10 times larger extruded shapes sector, which saw a strong increase, according to Bill Sales, executive vice president of operations at Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. While still rising, much of the growth in North American automotive production has already occurred, Lynn Brown, managing partner of the Dallas-based Consulting Collaborative, says. Last year a record 17.5 million light vehicles were produced in North America. While some more upward momentum is possible, automotive industry observers are expecting the rate of growth this year to slow to somewhere between 2 and 4% before peaking at 18-19 million vehicles by 2020. But while the number of light vehicles being built is flattening, the amount of aluminium extrusions per vehicle has been rising and is expected to continue to do so, albeit not quite at the same rate of growth as for heat treated aluminium sheet. Ducker Worldwide LLC, estimated that already in 2015 the amount of extrusions in the average North American light vehicle had already grown to 24 pounds from only an average of 19 pounds in 2012 and that the extrusions per average auto would increase further to about 35 pounds by 2020 and greater than 40 pounds per vehicle by 2025. March/April 2016

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There could be a significant step up this year, Brown says, given that 2016 will be the first complete year for the production of the aluminium intensive Ford F-150 pickup truck. It will be further bolstered by the first quarter launch of the Cadillac CT6, which, while not nearly as high volume of a vehicle as the F-150, also contains a lot of extrusions. Ford will also be launching an aluminium intensive version of its F-250 Super Duty pickup truck this year. Brown says it is also believed that when the General Motors Silverado is redesigned in 2017 or 2018 it will be much more aluminium intensive. Peacock notes that in particular there has been more demand for complex shaped extrusions with tighter tolerances to replace numerous machined parts that had to be joined together. He observes that using a single extrusion for such applications is not only lighter weight but could also help the OEM to take some of the cost out. This also has a sustainability advantage,

according to Steve Schabel, chief sales and marketing officer at Alexandria Industries, as such ancillary joining products as bolts, nuts, brackets, etc., are not needed. Extrusions are also part of a push for closed loop or cradle-to-cradle recycling, he observes. “Our industry’s carbon footprint is much less when using secondary billet,” he explains. However, moves toward closed loop recycling of extrusions aren’t as great as those for flat rolled products, Hayes maintains. “There are so many more suppliers than there is for flat roll so it isn’t as easy to do.” In general auto OEMs are getting “the biggest bang for their buck” switching to aluminium, including aluminium extrusions, for such large vehicles as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, observes SAPA’s Pell. Hayes estimates that there will continue to be mid-single digit increases in extrusions used by the automotive sector per year for a number of years. For heavy duty trucks and truck trailers, however, aluminium extrusions use could decline this year after several very strong years, partly because of the cyclical nature of these markets, observes Sandra Buchanan, a metals analyst for Metal Bulletin Research. Pell says that while demand for truck trailers, which have about 15-20% of total domestic extrusions market, could be down about 3% in 2016, volumes will remain at record levels. This, Hayes says, is because the industry saw increases of about 12% per year in both 2014 and 2015. The drop could be much worse, Pell says, given that production of heavy duty trucks has already fallen by about 25% since the fourth quarter of 2015 and could continue to see further declines until truck inventories, which got out of whack late last year, are worked down. But they

Photo courtesy of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.

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might not be in balance until late this year or early in 2017. As the manufacturing sector softened in the second half under the weight of the strong U.S. dollar and weakening global economies, bringing freight rates down with it, Hayes says it resulted in there being more trucks than were needed to move that freight. On the other hand, there continues to be pent up demand for truck trailers, Pell maintains. While such demand has recently been flattening out, he says backlogs are sufficient to continue to prop up demand at least through the first half of this year. Hayes says that pending legislation would allow the use of longer pup trailers, the small trailers often used when trucks haul tandem loads, could bolster trailer demand. Currently pup trailers are limited to being 28 feet in length. The legislation would allow pup trailers up to 33 feet long. Construction The construction market should continue to be a good contributor to 2016 extrusions demand, Hayes says, given that housing construction continues to shine at the same time as the nonresidential sector shows some signs of improvement, although that might be moderating. After rising about 10% last year, Doge Data & Analytics reports that the value of new nonresidential starts retreated slightly from December to January. Year on year overall starts were up 6% with residential building up 15%, nonresidential building down 7% and non-building construction up 11%. An increasing number of buildings are being built to “green” standards, Brown says, which is a plus for extrusions use given that new environmental regulations including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Energy Star have been supportive of greater use of sun shades and louvres – both of which use extruded parts – as a way of controlling energy use. Jeffrey Henderson, its director of operations, says the Aluminum Extruders Council will release the environmental product descriptions for extrusions required by LEED v4 later this year. Energy It is also hoped that now the alternative energy investment tax credits have been extended, it will result in increased demand for extrusions for solar panels, but that remains uncertain. Schabel says our business saw a 10% increase from the solar sector in 2015, partly due to projects being pulled forward with consumers fearing that the tax credits wouldn’t be renewed. He, however, is optimistic 2016 demand will be at least flat vs. the bubble Aluminium International Today

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Photo courtesy of Alexandria Industries

that was originally anticipated. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that a record 7,286 megawatts of solar photovoltaics were installed last year including a 66% increase in residential installations. Utility scale installations were up 6% while nonresidential projects were flat year-on-year. Demand One question, however, is how much extruders will benefit from future demand, given that panels could use either aluminium extrusions or galvanised steel, Pell admits. While galvanised steel carries a cost advantage, aluminium extrusions are lighter and, therefore, result in the panel having less stress upon the roof. Also there has been increased use of extrusions for LED lighting and industrial automation. There also has been some substitution displacing copper in certain electrical applications, Henderson observes. With demand picking up, domestic extrusion capacity has tightened, although it varies by the end market that the extruder serves. Some lead times remain only four to six weeks, while others, including at companies serving the auto industry, are further out. Because of this about a dozen new presses have come on line in the past year or so. Also a number of extruders upgraded current capacity, including fabrication capacity, to increase their efficiency. Billet availability hasn’t been a big concern, according to Schabel. While North American supply has become somewhat limited, he says more billet is coming in from overseas. He believes that with subsidies from their government, Chinese billet prices have fallen. Also, due to their use of natural forms of power, billet prices from the Middle East and Iceland are also being offered at lower

prices than certain less efficient North American plants. Future Given the anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed against Chinese extrusions coming in to the United States, U.S. imports are significantly lower than they were 10 years ago, Henderson admits, however the industry is concerned about recent reports of circumvention and transshipments. “We have seen data that indicates that extrusions are being dumped by China Zhongwang Holdings into Mexico and of aluminium pallets being shipped to southern California. According to a report by Dupre Analytics, these ‘fake semis’ are just welded together extrusions,” he says. “This needs to come to a head,” Henderson says. “We are disappointed that Commerce Department continues to delay their decision to investigate this.” Originally it was to decide whether to launch an investigation by the end of 2015, but on Feb. 22 once again delayed their decision. The new signature date is now scheduled for March 12. “As a whole this alleged circumvention of duties hasn’t had a big impact upon the market,” Hayes says. Several North American extruders have been able to successfully raise their selling prices for 2016 by 3-4 cents per pound. “Contract prices have also, on average, gone up. Volumes, while flattening, are still high,” Pell says. But while extruders’ margins are better than they had been when the market turned down from 2009-12, MBR’s Buchanan says they are not as good as during their 2006 peak. “But they are happy that with this ‘new normal’ they can at least cover their costs, helped by some new technologies including those that allow them to make thinner walled extrusions.” t March/April 2016

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Fives' Green Anode Plant at Sohar Aluminium. Photo courtesy of Fives

Looking at the GCC at Large Regional efforts to increase competitiveness in a depressed market are rooted in governmental and private sector initiatives. While each country has its own unique value proposition and challenges, there are certain trends that transcend borders and affect the region as a whole. Chinese dumping, LME price decline and currency movements With a globalised economy, various dynamics abroad affect the aluminium industry in the GCC region, with the leading trend being the oversupply of Chinese products.
 “Uncertainty surrounding China’s aluminium industry is one of the reasons that the price of aluminium on the London Metals Exchange has fallen,” argued Forakis, “virtually all of the aluminium that China produces stays within the country [....] As the Chinese economy has slowed down, domestic consumption has consequently slowed down as well, creating a surplus.”
 In response, the Chinese government removed export duties in order to maintain the local producers afloat. On a global scale, however, aluminium that was previously not being exported is now available on the world market. Forakis posits the industry-wide concern: “The LME price has dropped slightly, but of greater concern is that premiums have dropped significantly.” China’s decreased local demand affects GCC smelters in that it impacts the demand, supply and price of the global aluminium market. In theory, the high cost producers should reduce capacity, but GCC smelters operate on a lower cost curve and will continue to produce without reducing capacity. China produces March/April 2016

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around 30 million mt/y. Exporting two million mt/y may mean peanuts to China, but for the rest of the world, this is a large amount to swallow.

Said Al Masoudi, CEO, Sohar Aluminium

The aluminium industry in the GCC region, however, remains resilient, believing that this concern brought on by China will correct itself within the next two years. Already, the global industry has seen China begin to buckle under the pressure as evidenced by the announcement from Aluminum Corp of China (Chinalco), the country’s top producer of the metal, that it plans to shut down its biggest smelter, accounting for about an eighth of its total capacity, due to the low aluminium prices. Another trend affecting aluminium in the GCC is the worldwide devaluation of currencies against the US dollar. While many countries are enjoying the increased demand for exported products that their devalued currency brings, the GCC is an exception, as Said Al Masoudi, CEO of Sohar Aluminium, explained: “One trend

that is uniquely affecting the Gulf countries is that the currencies in this region are pegged against the US dollar, whereas many countries are experiencing currency depreciations,” stated Al Masoudi. “Using the example of Russia, its aluminium sector is slowly gaining momentum through its weakened currency against the US dollar which makes labour and materials cheaper. This makes Russia more competitive even if their energy costs are higher.” In spite of excess of aluminium in the market and the currency pressures, Al Masoudi takes a more positive view of the situation: “This pressure has forced smelters, especially in the GCC region, to become more innovative and efficient in order to withstand price pressures until the market comes back to a balance.” Speaking to the steps that Qatalum has had to take in this more difficult pricing environment, Khalid Mohammed Laram, the recently appointed CEO of Qatalum, explained that the company is focusing on not only improving costs, but improving productivity: “This is done through increasing the utilisation of our own people, reducing manning from contractors, and, very importantly, enhancing safety performance. Fewer incidents mean fewer breakdowns and stops to production. If we take an average of what we call recordable incidents and benchmark Qatalum against the other GCC smelters and Hydro smelters around the world, Qatalum is performing better, respectively. Qatalum has a very strong HSE team and also coordinates with MIC. MIC has its own safety program, so we are learning from them and they are learning from us.” While improving productivity is one Aluminium International Today

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aspect to surviving a more difficult business climate, it cannot be the only solution. Laram continued: “It’s also becoming more challenging to get new customers and so we must work to maintain our existing clients. To keep existing customers happy, Qatalum is working to improve ontime delivery. Clients, particularly those in the automotive sector, are looking for consistency in product delivery and this is one of the main reasons clients prefer to work with us.” Nationalisation of the workforce In a region where competitiveness tends to revolve around cheap energy and hydrocarbons, the GCC countries are moving to a different level where the focus is on the development of local talent, skills and knowledge to produce a better value proposition for the countries to offer to both employers and employees. Each country is emphasising the importance of boosting human capital competitiveness through nationalization efforts in order to maximize local employment and minimize the need for expatriates in the work-force, with the ultimate goal of increasing the standard of living and benefits to their respective citizens. “From the perspective of GCC countries, there are great advantages to recruiting locally. GCC countries have nationals that are well educated and some have very good experience,” argued Christians Cruz, managing director of MGR Management Consulting, a recruitment services firm based in Dubai. “The aluminium industry can provide their newly graduated GCC nationals with the opportunity to gain working experience which is so important for the success of the GCC countries.”
 As the industrial flagship of the UAE and already a significant contributor to the strategic diversification of the local economy, EGA considers “Emiratisation” a key component in its efforts to maximise its impact on social and economic development. “UAE nationals currently comprise approximately 20% of EGA’s 7,000-strong workforce in the UAE,

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Khalid Mohammed Laram CEO, Qatar Aluminium (Qatalum)

while the proportional UAE national representation at senior management level is currently at 70%,” said Kalban. EGA is working towards a target to recruit 340 UAE nationals across a range of disciplines through their active talent acquisition and development programs in place to ensure rewarding career opportunities. Similarly, Sohar Aluminium considers the development of its people to be an integral part of its operations: “Sohar Aluminium enjoys one of the highest percentages of local employment, with 73% Omanisation and has achieved this through investments in training,” stated Al Masoudi. However, nationalising the workforce is not something that happens overnight. Alba has achieved 88% Bahranisation, but one must remember that the smelter has been in operation for over 40 years. For newer smelters, this challenge persists: “Qatarisation is one of Qatalum’s goals, but it is the most difficult target for us to achieve,” explained Laram. “The Qatari population is small and they have many opportunities in other industries such as oil and gas: a smelter is not an ideal place to work in. Qatalum has a five-year plan to attract more Qataris, but it will be difficult to achieve. For now, Qatalum relies on foreign expertise, employing people from 41 different countries. To really grow Qatari participation in the aluminium industry, the country will have to grow its downstream sector, which right now only includes two extrusion companies.” While the smelters are making significant progress toward nationalising the workforce, likewise, private companies are doing the same because it is just good business. Pyrotek, for example, is very focused on employing the maximum number of Bahraini’s within the organization. “At present,” said Majeed, “98% of our employees are from Bahrain and our goal is to achieve 100% Bahraini employment. From a business perspective,

Khalid Turk, Director, Turk Mechanical Industries (TMI) and CEO, Turk Heavy Transport (THT)

it makes sense to employ locals as the talent is already here. The Bahrain workforce is well educated and there is no need to go overseas to acquire the talent we require for our operations.” GCC: A new frontier for innovation The GCC has distinguished itself as a region constantly pushing itself to innovate as is easily seen through its infrastructure developments, however one might be surprised by the innovation taking place in the industrial sectors. It is easy to assume that the aluminium industry in the GCC would rely on importing technology and processes from the Western world that has a longer history working in this sector, but that would be mistaken. EGA, for example, is the only smelter in the region to have developed its own proprietary technology, DX & DX+ Technology, which it is already transferring to the neighbouring smelters, as evidenced by Alba’s decision to utilize EGA’s DX+ Smelting Technology for its Line 6. Innovation is not limited to the giants in the industry. “Every year, Gulf Extrusions invests into research and development and has developed a strategy to make an environmentally friendly plant which is built on three main pillars: raw material, process and green end products,” explained Al Mekdad. Gulf Extrusions has successfully implemented and patented X-ECO, an alloy made from over 80% post-consumer recycled content, reducing the carbon footprint by 60-to-80%. “This number is very significant when we consider that for every tonne of primary aluminium, we emit 11,000 kg of CO2. Even though these products use high levels of recycled aluminium, this product still maintains excellent mechanical properties and excellent surface finish. This product also helps designers and architects to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for Aluminium International Today

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their prestigious construction projects.” OSE Industries, through its innovative products, is looking to shake up two globally significant industries: automotive and cooling. It is doing this by increasing awareness to the benefits of replacing copper in certain extruded products with aluminium. “The main technical comparison between copper and aluminium is that when copper tubes with aluminium fins for the condenser coils are used, galvanic corrosion can occur; however, when using aluminium tubes with aluminium fins this does not occur with the use of a technology called parallel-flow condenser. Whereas with the copper there is opposition in the direction of the refrigerant – the gas for cooling – because of the way it is built; with aluminium, the gas flows in parallel, making it more efficient with the absence of resistance to the gas flow,” explained Samoul. “Another separate but important comparison is that when you are filling the refrigerant into the aluminium (microchannel system), you are saving around 35-to70% of the refrigerant, which is an ozone contaminant. Technical aspects aside, aluminium is more attractive than copper from a pricing perspective. Not only is

aluminium currently cheaper than copper, but the price of the copper fluctuates more. In addition, the availability of copper is quite small in comparison to aluminium,” he said. Even service providers are innovating to service their smelting and downstream clients. Turk Mechanical Industries (TMI) is one such company. Based in Bahrain, TMI specialises in the fabrication and manufacture of consumable parts for the aluminium industry and has achieved penetration across the GCC smelting market. While TMI does not have a research and development department it has developed its own technology through trial and error and client cooperation. Khalid Turk, director of Turk Mechanical Industries (TMI) and CEO of Turk Heavy Transport (THT), provided an example: “TMI designed, casted and supplied tapping tubes for passing molten metal aluminium with a special composition using Alba’s feedback to improve the product. The product has a longer life and is, therefore, more economical for Alba. TMI’s focus is to assure that the parts supplied are comparable or better than what foreign competition produces.” Another Bahraini service provider, TAHA International Corporation (TAHA),

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has innovated to provide an alternative method to traditional and commonly used forms of dross recycling. TAHA has patented a two-stage process that requires neither extra energy nor salt, yielding no toxic material by-product. “TAHA’s onsite operation avoids the need to reheat the dross,” explained Frank Pollman, CEO of TAHA, “and, due to this rapid, low-energy process, up to 90% of available metal in the dross can be recovered in the first stage and can be returned immediately to the original furnace without further alloying. The second stage recovers virtually all of the remaining aluminium in the dross through a meticulous mechanical separation process that includes the use of a non-ferrous metal separator. This recovered metal is collected, remelted and sold or returned to the cast house, completing the recycling process. Separately, the residual oxides can be used in a variety of downstream product applications furthering TAHA’s zero waste solution.” What is important to note about these innovations is that they are not limited to one country or another. These products and services are being invented and designed in the GCC and are being shared with the world. 

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Spotlight on South Africa

With all eyes on the South African aluminium industry for the AFSA International Aluminium Conference and Exhibition in March, Nadine Firth* spoke to Mark Krieg** about how the region is working to overcome market challenges and plan for the future. Q. How did the formation of AFSA come about? A. When the first smelter in Richards Bay was established in the 1970s, the demand for aluminium products rapidly increased. While this first smelter was built to supply the local demand, additional smelters were built with the export market in mind. The large players in the industry therefore agreed to establish an industry association. They understood the importance of having an industry body that could act on behalf of the industry and provide support. This would foster the correct use of aluminium, and support the growth of the emerging market. Thus, it was that the Aluminium Federation of South Africa (AFSA) was registered as a not for profit Section 22 company in 1981. Q. What is AFSA’s purpose/vision? A. Made up of four associations covering fabricated products, castings, surface finishing and the distributors, the purpose of AFSA is: t To promote the use of aluminium and the growth of aluminium usage. t To promote the Southern African aluminium industry, both regionally and internationally. t To promote, represent and defend the interests of its members. Q. Is AFSA primarily focused on aluminium companies in South Africa or does it also assist members across other regions of Africa? A. AFSA’s key role is to support and assist growth strategies of the South African

industry. However, we welcome members from the rest of Africa, particularly on the sub-continent. Resource limitations preclude us from actively marketing the Federation to aluminium producers on the continent. AFSA currently has 100 members. This number has declined over the years, as we have unfortunately lost companies to closure. Q. What is the current state of the South African aluminium industry? A. While volumes have been growing since the set back of 2008/09, the growth rate in 2014 was slower than in the previous five years. The local industry is challenged by low cost imports; however, we note that the price of equal quality product can be matched, especially as the local currency has weakened. Q. What challenges is the industry facing? A. Local volumes of castings are low compared to global levels. This gives overseas competitors a significant volume advantage. Similarly, semi-fabricated products face competition from imports that target e.g. the simpler, high volume architectural sections, whereas flat product is often required in alloys, widths and in volumes, which make local production unviable. Q. The Federation covers multiple sectors of the aluminium industry – is there one area where you have seen the most innovation/ investment?

A. We have noted that, across the sectors, the successful companies are leading in innovation and investment. For example, in the upstream industry – primary smelter and semi-fabrication companies have steadily modernised and invested. Equally, the downstream fabricators and foundries are highly innovative, for example foundries use the latest software solutions to simulate the casting process. The automobile industry is heavily invested in South Africa, and is using more aluminium components. Production of the aluminium bodied C-Class Mercedes Benz in South Africa is well established and foundries produce parts for the automotive sector. Tankers, trailers, tippers and marine vessels are produced for the local and export markets into Africa and the rest of the world. Pioneering work in Friction Stir Welding is undertaken at University level. The challenges facing the aluminium industry globally, naturally affect the local producers. Q. In what way(s) does AFSA support its members? A. AFSA provides a forum where work at the pre-competitive level is undertaken. We have a panel of Technical Experts that provide consulting to members and customers of members on a wide range of technical issues. We also support the development of technical standards with the South African Bureau of Standards.

*Editor, Aluminium International Today **Executive Director, AFSA Aluminium International Today

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Q. The AFSA Conference is being held in Cape Town this year – what can delegates expect? A. We are planning a three-day conference, which is long by international standards. On day one there will be a keynote speech by a senior government official on manufacturing policy. Overseas speakers will address policy and government interaction in the UK and Canada. The captains of industry will present their vision for the future. Sustainability and environmentally responsible production will also be covered. Days two and three become more sector specific. Sectors covered will include automotive and packaging (significant growth potential), while technologies will look at casting processes and alloys, fabrication and welding/bonding and building and construction. An exhibition will run simultaneously. Q. The theme of the Conference is “Doubling aluminium demand”: Is this just referring to South Africa or is this a global vision? A. “Doubling Aluminium Demand” is a global theme, but we believe it is within reach of the local industry. For example,


the recently launched all aluminium can has the potential to double demand for flat rolled products. Q. Where in South Africa is there the most demand for aluminium? A. The greatest volume of semifabricated products is for flat rolled products and extrusions. This is used by the building and construction sector, automotive, transport, electrical, and now rapidly expanding packaging. As more motor vehicles with aluminium bodies are introduced, demand in this sector is set to rise rapidly. Q. How is the industry in South Africa responding to “green politics”? A. The South African government has committed to a very ambitious GHG reduction programme. It is being implemented by the Department of the Environment, Department of Energy and the Department of Finance (Carbon Tax to be introduced in 2016). Corporate South Africa, including the aluminium sector, is working closely with Government on the implementation of the laws that are coming into effect. I have mentioned GHG, but all factory emissions

and effluents and energy efficiency are covered by legislation. Q. What does the short and longterm future hold for the South African aluminium industry? A. The South African manufacturing sector has been in decline for the past six years. Aluminium demand has continued at a relatively low growth rate, but still positive, which other metal industries would envy. Building and construction and packaging are significant users of aluminium and have shown the strongest performance. We do, however, note that local producers are rationalising product lines, and much of the growth has been supplied by imports. In the longer term we trust that the electricity generation patterns will normalise over the next five years and that a recovery will follow. The challenge will be for companies to keep operating, innovating and up-skilling their staff until the demand patterns stabilise at a higher level. Rebuilding supply chains is very challenging, and companies may not succeed. t www.afsa.org.za


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This paper was previously published in the ICSOBA Newsletter Volume 14, December 2015

Management and use of bauxite residue Ken Evans* looks at historic developments and trends

This paper serves as a brief overview of the history and trends in the management and use of bauxite residue, outlining: The dimensions of the problem; how methods of storage and disposal have developed over time and the implications for bauxite residue use; characteristics of bauxite residue; the technically successful uses; the challenges to implementation – real and perceived; a review of large scale/ industrial scale successes; and some hopes for the future. Annual production of smelter grade and chemical grade alumina in 2015 was some 115 million tonnes1, which, with the exception of some plants in Russia, Iran and China, is all produced using the Bayer process. The global average for the production of bauxite residue per tonne of alumina is between 1 and 1.5 tonnes, though the range is much broader, so it is estimated that some 150 million tonnes of bauxite residue is produced annually. This is generated at some 60 active Bayer plants. In addition there are at least another 50 closed legacy sites so the combined stockpile of bauxite residue at active and legacy sites is estimated at three thousand million tonnes. Disposal and storage methods Management of and the methods of the storage of bauxite residue has evolved progressively over the decades2. In the early Bayer alumina plants, the residue generated was often merely piled up on site or an area adjoining the alumina plant. Occasionally nearby depleted mine or quarry sites were used. In other situations nearby estuaries or sea lagoons were used and then later as the closest convenient areas were filled, valleys were dammed to contain the ever-growing volume of residue. These methods of storage were especially true of the early European sites including: Bergheim (Germany) - on site

storage then in a former lignite mines; Burntisland (UK) - disposal into an estuary, then behind a sea wall, then an old shale mine; Gardanne (France) - storage in a dammed valley then disposal by pipeline to the sea; La Barasse (France) - storage on site then nearby dammed valley then disposal to sea via a pipeline; Larne (UK) - disposal into sea water lagoons; Ludwigshafen (Germany) - storage on site; Newport (UK) – disposal into estuary from barges then sea water lagoons; Salindres (France) – on site storage then in a dammed valley and Schwandorf (Germany) – on site storage. Prior to 1980, most of the inventory of bauxite residue was stored in lagoontype impoundments and the practice is still carried out at some facilities. In this method, the bauxite residue slurry from the mud washing circuit is pumped, with a solids content of 20 to 30%, into storage areas created by dams and other earthworks for secure containment. In many instances valleys were dammed for example, Ewarton (Jamaica), see figs 1 and 2, Gardanne, Salindres, Saint Cyr (France), Ouro Preto (Brazil). Examples of old mine storage were: bauxite mines (Kirkvine (Jamaica), Bauxite (USA)), lignite mines (Bergheim), and oil shale quarries (Burntisland). In the case of sites constructed in the past three or four decades, the storage areas have normally been sealed to minimise leakage to the underlying ground and ground-water, however, this tended not to be the practice in earlier years. Sealing approaches cover a range of materials including compacted clay and/or the use of plastic and other membrane materials. The supernatant liquor above the residue was normally returned to the plant for reuse thereby recovering some of the caustic soda value and avoiding contaminating the environment. Various

drainage and seepage collection systems have been incorporated into the design and construction of the facilities. The construction of the storage area was often dictated by the type of bauxite residue and differed for clay like muds compared to more sandy residues. There are many examples of this storage method but they include Stade (Germany), Burnside (USA) and Vaudreuil (Canada). If the residue material is not neutralised before discharge to the storage lagoon, it can becomes a highly alkaline, poorly compacted mud area covered by a highly alkaline lake. This creates safety and environmental hazards including

Fig 1. Bauxite residue disposal into a dammed valley to create a lagoon, early stages

the potential for contact of humans and wildlife with alkaline liquor and mud, and contamination with surface and ground waters by leaching of caustic liquor and other contaminants. Addressing the risk and to eliminate the potential for catastrophic failure of the dam/impoundment and consequent environmental hazard to the surrounding area/communities introduces high monitoring, maintenance and remediation costs. Another disposal technique adopted by some plants was sea or river disposal

*Consultant, International Aluminium Institute Aluminium International Today

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particularly in the 1940s to 1960s. In at least six plants, two located in France (Gardanne and La Barasse), one in Greece (Distomon) and three in Japan (Shimizu, Ehime, Yokohama), bauxite residue was discharged into the sea either via pipelines or from ocean going vessels. Other alumina plants disposed of the residue into rivers or estuaries, for example into the Mississippi River (Gramercy), and Severn Estuary (Newport). In other cases in Ireland (Larne), Wales (Newport) and Scotland (Burntisland), land was reclaimed from the sea by disposing of the residue in tidal lagoons or behind sea walls. River discharge is no longer undertaken at any alumina refining facilities and all sea discharge stopped at the end of 2015. As land for lagoon storage became scarce for many plants, “Dry stacking� methods were used. A dry stacking regime was adopted nearly 75 years ago in the UK3 and about 50 years ago in Germany4 and since the 1980s the trend has been


seawater is practiced at a number of Australian plants close to the sea (Yarwun and QAL); carbonation by using waste carbon dioxide from ammonia production has been used (Kwinana (Australia)); and accelerated carbonation using intensive farming methods, Aughinish (Ireland), Kwinana, Worsley (Australia)) is showing considerable benefits. Filtration using drum filters and plate and frame filter presses to recover caustic soda, produce a lower moisture and more handleable bauxite residue have been employed for some 80 years but is now growing in usage. Plate and frame filter presses were adopted in Vaudreuil in 1936 when the plant was constructed and in Burntisland in 1941 as the lagoons adjacent to the site were full. In the case of Burntisland the bauxite residue needed to be transported on public roads through the town to a nearby old oil shale mine so a high solids content mud was a key requirement. In the mid 1960s at

Fig 2. Bauxite residue disposal into dammed valley, later stages

increasingly towards dry stacking to reduce the potential for leakage of caustic liquor to the surrounding environment, reduce the land area required, and maximise the recoveries of soda and alumina. Considerable work was undertaken in Jamaica on the Robinsky5 sloped thickened tailing disposal system and Ewarton adopted the practice in the mid-1980s6. See Figure 4. Additionally, improved methods for thickening and washing of the residues prior to storage, and recovery of decant water during storage, have been developed to increase the recovery of valuable soda and alumina to the Bayer process plants and to minimise the potential for leakage to the surrounding environment. The current trend in residue storage practice is towards increasing use of dry stacking as the preferred technology, and further research to optimise this technology is appropriate. Very many plants now use equipment such as Amphirols to aid dewatering of the mud in order to compact and consolidate the residue. Partial neutralisation using March/April 2016

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Ludwigshafen, vacuum drum filters were adopted. In addition to helping recover more caustic, this trend opens up considerable benefits in terms of reuse as the material is normally produced as a friable cake, with typically less than 28% moisture, and lower soda thereby dramatically reducing transport issues and costs. Alunorte (Brazil), Distomon (Greece), Gardanne, Kwinana, Seydisehir (Turkey) and many plants in China have already adopted or plan to adopt plate and frame filter presses. Hyper Baric filters are reported to achieve particularly low moisture content material with the performance of the press being enhanced when steam is used; moisture contents lower than 25% have been reported. The appalling and tragic incident at the bauxite residue ponds adjacent to the Ajka alumina refinery in Hungary in October 2010 when some 600,000 to 800,000m3 of caustic red mud slurry inundated the village of Kolontar and flowed into the Torna Creek, Marcal and Raba rivers had a significant effect on the alumina

industry. The producers, via organisations such as the European Aluminium and International Aluminium Institute, have since worked collaboratively to look for improved solutions and propose best practice guidelines which were published in a guideline document. The IAI continues to encourage collaborative effort on improving storage, monitoring, safety standards, looking at improved remediation techniques and reuse opportunities. Key messages coming out of the best practice reviews have been the drive to dispose of and store bauxite residue in a safer way with lower caustic and higher solids content. These moves will encourage the utilisation of residue as the material produced will be in a more acceptable form for transport, handling and reuse. Reuse of bauxite residue has for long featured in the thinking of Bayer plant operators but in spite of over a century of endeavour and trials, only some 2 to 3% of the nearly 150 million tonnes of bauxite residue produced annually is used in a productive way. Thousands of trials have been completed and dozens of uses have been identified as being technically feasible but the challenge remains to find good economically viable uses for the amount generated every year let alone eat into the material already stockpiled. The bauxite residue disposal costs for a plant are obviously very dependent on the availability of a suitable disposal site, the distance from the plant to the disposal area and the method on conveying used (by pumping, conveyor or truck). Residues from different bauxites also behave quite differently in terms of composition, mineralogy and particle size. The variation in composition naturally has an overriding effect on potential applications so any practical work looking at applications must take into account the specific chemical composition, mineralogy, pH, particle size distribution, morphology and nature of the residue emanating from a particular plant. There is relatively little published data on the cost of disposal of bauxite residue but it is generally estimated to be between 1 and 3% of the total production cost, perhaps US$4 to 12. Corporate attitudes have change dramatically over the past 10 years, reflecting growing community awareness and to meet the demands of concerned shareholders and NGOs, and producers now have a more holistic attitude to resolving the problem and reducing the area given over to residual disposal areas. Bauxite residue characteristics The key first steps in discussing uses is a consideration of the chemical compounds Aluminium International Today

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present in the bauxite residue, the levels present and the physical characteristics of the material. As discussed, the variation in composition is extremely wide as shown in Table 1; these are for commonly used bauxites and the range can be even broader for some unusual bauxites. A wide range of other components may also be present at low levels; these will invariably be as metallic oxides e.g. arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, gallium, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, potassium, scandium, thorium, uranium, vanadium, zinc, zirconium and rare earth elements. Nonmetallic elements that may occur in the bauxite residue are phosphorus, carbon and sulphur. The minerals present are complex and comprise some which are present in the bauxite and others that are produced during the autoclaving and the desilication processes. The range of minerals typically found for bauxite residues is shown in Table 2. In addition there are various other minerals sometimes found at low levels. Sodium is the only element not found in the bauxite itself; some of the elements are soluble in the Bayer process and either build up in the Bayer liquor, or precipitate along with the aluminium hydroxide. A wide variety of organic compounds can also be present, these are derived from vegetable and organic matter in the bauxite/overburden or the use of crystal growth modifiers or flocculants and includes carbohydrates, alcohols, phenols, and the sodium salts of polybasic and hydroxyacids such as humic, fulvic, succinic, acetic or oxalic acids. The other factors that are in important when considering uses are the physical characteristics such as particle size distribution and some variable parameters such as moisture content. The median particle size is normally in the range of 5 to 10 µm, however, the breadth of particles is both very broad ranging from coarse sandy grains about 1mm in size down to sub-micron particles for bauxite residues produced from different alumina plants and different bauxites. Some alumina refineries separate the different size fractions during processing whilst others do not; the coarse sandy fraction has been given various names, for example “Red SandTM” or “Red Oxide Sand”. It should be noted that bauxite residue or red mud has been called a variety of names by different companies, sometimes after additional treatment and some of the names are registered trademarks. These names include: Bauxaline®, AlkaloamTM, Red Oxide Sand, Red SandTM, Ferraloks, Bauxsol®, ReadyGritTM, BPR – Bayer Process Residue, ARR – Alumina Refinery Aluminium International Today

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Typical range (%)


5 - 60


5 - 30


0.3 -15


2 - 14


3 - 50


1 - 10

5 - 20


Table 1. Chemical composition, expressed as oxides, commonly found in bauxite residue

Residue, Bauxite tailings, Ferroalumina, Ferraloks, ART – Alumina refinery tailings, Redmedite, TerraBTM, ViroMineTM, ViroSoilsTM, ViroSewageTM, CajuniteTM and RMG. Bauxite residue is arguably a more inclusive name as some alumina refineries separate the coarse high silica sandy fraction from the fine muds; some of the muds are brown rather than red; and some diasporic derived residues are almost black in colour. However, the name

with particular focus on the recovery of elements present in the bauxite residue. Even Bayer himself in his 1892 patent describing the Bayer Process proposed the potential for iron recovery. Possible applications can broadly be broken down into various categories:  Recovery of specific components present in the bauxite residue, e.g. iron, titanium, aluminium, lanthanides, yttrium and scandium;  Use as a major component in manufacture of another product, e.g. cement;  Use of the bauxite residue as a component in a building or construction material, e.g. concrete, tiles, bricks;  Use for soil amelioration or capping;  Use for some specific property which might include conversion of the bauxite residue to a useful material by modifying the compounds present, e.g. Virotec process.

Fig 3. Bauxite residue disposal into a former oil shale mine

“red mud” tends to be more commonly used in North America and Europe. Technical successes in the use of bauxite residue Many potential applications have been considered and explored for decades Component

Typical range (%)

Sodalite (3Na2O.3Al2O3.6SiO2.Na2SO4) Al -goethite ((Fe,Al)2O3.nH2O) Haematite (Fe2O3)

4 - 40 1 - 55 10 - 30

Magnetite (Fe3O4)


Silica (SiO2) crystalline and amorphous

3 - 20

Calcium aluminate (3CaO.Al2O3.6H2O)

2 - 20

Boehmite (AlOOH)

0 - 20

Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) anatase and rutile

2 - 15

Muscovite (K2O.3Al2O3. 6SiO2.2H2O)

0 - 15

Calcite (CaCO3)

2 - 20

Kaolinite (Al2O3. 2SiO2.2H2O)


Gibbsite (Al(OH)3)


Perovskite (CaTiO3)

0 - 12

Cancrinite (Na6[Al6Si6O24].2CaCO3)

0 - 50

Diaspore (AlOOH)


Table 2. Typical range of components found in bauxite residues

The list of areas where bauxite residue covers almost all of inorganic material science and a full review would extend to pages, some of the most attractive have been: cement manufacture, use in concrete, iron recovery, titanium recovery, use in building panels, bricks, foamed insulating bricks, tiles, refuse tip capping/site restoration, treatment of acid mine drainage, soil amelioration, road construction, dam/levee construction, pigments, glass ceramics. Meanwhile some other uses which have been shown to be technically feasible but not yet exploited to any significant degree are: lanthanides (rare earth elements) recovery, scandium recovery, gallium recovery, vanadium recovery, cobalt recovery, yttrium recovery, adsorbent of heavy metals, dyes, phosphates, fluoride, water treatment chemical, ceramics, foamed glass, oil drilling or gas extraction proppants, gravel/railway ballast, calcium and silicon fertiliser, filler for PVC, wood substitute, geopolymers, catalysts, plasma spray coating of aluminium and copper, manufacture of aluminium titanateMarch/April 2016

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Mullite composites for high temperature resistant coatings, composites with epoxides, composites with poly aniline, manufacture of radiopaque materials for the construction of X-Ray diagnostic and CT scanner rooms, desulphurisation of flue gas, arsenic removal, chromium removal7,8. Some applications, such as use in pigments have been successful but use very small tonnages. The question so often asked is why some of these potentially exciting applications have failed to be implemented when on a small scale they look so attractive. It is certainly not the desire of producers to harbour their bauxite residue! Major barriers to reuse When considering the commercial/ industrial implementation of uses that have been found to be technically successful, it is important to consider the barriers that have prevented the implementation of apparently sound and economic solutions. The materials that bauxite residue would be replacing in any application are very often readily and cheaply available so any negative feature or minor impediment is a potential barrier to change. Assessing both the actual risk, and the perceived risk to the stakeholders for any particular application is crucial. Some important risk factors to consider are discussed below. Leaching of heavy metals The leaching of metals, especially heavy metals, into the environment is a particular issue for any material that is used in building products, bricks, roads, in construction, soil capping or soil amelioration. Soluble chromium is normally the element of most concern though arsenic can also be a problem for some specific residues. This is generally only a particular issue when the materials are exposed to high or low pH values. Solubility/extraction tests of components or aggregates (for example EN 12457 – Waste Acceptance Criteria Testing) or metal uptake studies in vegetation may all be necessary depending on the application in order to show that the bauxite residue will not be a problem in use. Radioactivity Most bauxites contain low levels of radioactive elements, termed NORM (naturally occurring radioactivity material) in particular 238U and 232Th, and this is normally doubled in the bauxite residue. The radioactivity in the bauxite residue is referred to as TENORM (technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactivity material). The EU Radiation Protection Guideline 112 has a recommended range of 0.3 – 1 mSv/y for building materials; the particular limit being determined by the Aluminium International Today

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expected exposure. Data for Australian derived bauxite residue shows a level of 0.005 – 0.2 Bq/g for the sand fraction and 0.15 – 0.6 Bq/g for the mud fraction due to 238U and 0.3 – 0.8 Bq/g for the sand fraction and 1– 1.9 Bq/g for the mud fraction due to 232Th and 0.07 – 0.23 Bq/g due to 40K in mud fraction9. A thorough understanding of the radioactivity issues are most important when any application is considered. Public perception and concerns must be addressed as despite the data shown above, the radioactivity levels measured have stopped a number of interesting applications proceeding. Examples include the manufacture of bricks for domestic buildings in Jamaica, the use of construction materials in applications other than roof tiles in Hungary and the manufacture of ceramic insulating fibre for domestic situations. An “Activity Index” assessment has been proposed to consider each application on its merits looking at the level of radioactivity in the bauxite residue, the amount of bauxite residue in the product and the time and degree of expected exposure. Alkalinity/high sodium The high pH is a problem from both a health and safety aspect and potentially adverse effects in the particular application. This ranges from poor weathering resistance in construction materials to high sodicity when used in soil amelioration. Both high sodium levels and high pH will be reduced when press filters are used. Accelerating carbonation by the use of carbon dioxide, intensive farming or acid neutralisation as a first stage could also be considered to reduce the pH. Hazardous rating of bauxite residue in some jurisdictions There have been many discussions, particularly in the EU, concerning the hazardous nature of bauxite residue in particular in respect of its pH. If classified as a hazardous waste, this will add considerably to the cost of all aspects of handling, storage and transport. Based on a number of standard test criteria, any waste material with a pH value above 11.5 is often considered hazardous. Implementation of an improved filtering operation, may reduce the pH of bauxite residue to a level that avoids skin and eye irritation. Moisture level A high moisture level will add to transport costs and will be an issue if energy has to be expended in driving it off in drying or firing (calcination), so it is advantageous for the bauxite residue to have as high a

solids content as possible. Additives such as starch have been used for dewatering for very many decades but from the 1980s there was growing use of synthetic flocculants. The trend back to the use of more efficient plate and frame press filters has meant that bauxite residues with moisture level of 26/27% or lower can now be obtained. Transport costs The logistics cost is very substantially increased if the material is classified as hazardous since special procedures must be implemented during transportation. Whilst the high alkalinity does not impose a problem with corrosion of steel, it does cause pitting of aluminium which is a part of the UN transport code. If the conversion or use is not carried out at the alumina refinery, the bauxite residue will almost certainly be competing with some other

Fig 4. Mud dewatering and compaction

low cost ore, mineral or waste - reducing the transport costs to as low as possible is therefore essential. A major trend since the 1980s has been the closure of small and medium size alumina plants, perhaps 100,000 to 300,000 t/y annual production, in Europe and the growth of much larger plants, this is especially true in Brazil and Australia. These larger plants are very often remote from large centres of population which is likely to mean there is a lower level of industrial activity and consequently limit some opportunities for the use of bauxite residue. Industrial scale successes It is generally estimated that some 2 to 3.5 million tonnes of the bauxite residue produced annually is used in some way although reliable data is difficult to obtain as it does fluctuate markedly from year to year as the economics change. Current estimates from sources are:  Cement – 500,000 to 1,500,000 tonnes;  Raw material/additive in iron and March/April 2016

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steel production – 400,000 to 1,500,000 tonnes;  Roads (See Fig 5) landfill capping/ soil amelioration – 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes;  Construction materials (bricks, tiles, ceramics etc.) – 100,000 to 300,000 tonnes;  Other (refractory, adsorbent, acid mine drainage (Virotec), catalyst etc.) – 100,000 tonnes. Bauxite residue can provide valuable iron and alumina values in the production of Ordinary Portland cement. Excluding China, the use of bauxite residue in the cement industry in the manufacture of clinker is estimated at approximately 260,000 t/y almost all of which is from the Nikolayev alumina plant in the Ukraine. The bauxite residue from Nikolayev is used in cement plants in the Ukraine,

Fig 5. Use of Red SandTM for road construction (Photo courtesy of Alcoa)

Russia, Georgia, Moldova and Belarus. The Nikolayev refinery blends the residue produced to give the cement plant a consistent feed and the climate allows a reasonably low moisture product to be produced. There is modest usage of bauxite residue from AdG’s plant in Distomon in cement production at a plant in Patras. The use of bauxite residue in cement in China was formerly several million tonnes a year but this has fallen because of the changes in construction industry standards and also a reduction in the number of plants operating a sinter or Bayer-sinter extraction route. It should be noted that the bauxite residue produced from the sinter or Bayer-sinter extraction route is very different chemically from that produced in a conventional Bayer alumina plant. The usage of bauxite residue in steel manufacture is of the order of 70,000 to 100,000 tonne/year, excluding China. The iron ores that are normally used in iron and steel manufacture have an iron content of typically 55 to 70% with 66% being available from many good quality sources. Meanwhile for comparison, March/April 2016

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bauxite residues have a typical range of iron of 3 to 42%. Notably success has also been achieved using magnetic separation techniques as a first stage of processing to concentrate the iron fraction. The bauxite residue material is also wet and has a high sodium content which is a disadvantage in steel production. The simultaneous recovery of other metals, for example titanium and aluminium, would improve the economics of using bauxite residue for iron recovery in steel production. The only non-Chinese plant using bauxite residue for making steel is based in the Urals. Several Indian sources of bauxite residue are relatively high in iron, between 30 to 39%, and a considerable amount of work has been done to recover the iron values in the bauxite residue from the NALCO plant using the Romelt process but whilst technically feasible, it was uneconomic because of the high-energy costs involved in the process. China has shown the most dramatic change in the last 15 years with alumina production increasing from about 2.5 million tonnes in 2000 to 59 million tonnes by 2015. The generation of bauxite residue has grown to over 50 million tonnes a year, the alumina manufacturing routes have traditionally been very different because of the nature of the indigenous bauxite. Sinter routes or combined Bayer-sinter routes were widespread but are now declining sharply and the industry has become more dependent on imported bauxites. This change in route has significantly changed the characteristics and composition of the bauxite residues being produced. A very strong driving force in China has been government imposed legislation requiring that bauxite residue is reused. The manufacture of bricks, tiles and other building materials has been shown to be technically possible by many groups of workers from a wide variety of sources of bauxite residue using both fired and chemically bonded methods. Outside China, however, whilst plants have started up, production has not continued. Use of bauxite residue for capping municipal landfills is carried out in France; the amount varies considerably from year to year but is estimated at 40,000 to 100,000 tonne/year. Somewhat related, has been the use as a soil amendment/ conditioner for acidic/sandy soils; on largescale trials this has been shown to be safe and beneficial, especially in controlling high levels of phosphorous. Controversy over two decades has prevented its implementation until now. Usage for road building and dyke/levee construction is estimated at 20,000 tonne/

year, however, some is used internally within each alumina site complex, often for roads within the bauxite disposal area. A considerable about of work has been done in Western Australia by Alcoa in conjunction with Curtin University on using Red Sand™ in the construction of roads. In this process, the coarse sandy fraction of the bauxite residue is neutralised with carbon dioxide to create the Red Sand™. Summary The early history of bauxite residue storage involved using estuaries or land impoundment areas adjacent to the factory as a low solids slurry. Disposal into rivers, estuaries or the sea was common for a number of years but this has now ceased. Storage of bauxite residue as dilute slurry in old mines, impounded areas or dammed valleys was widely practised until the mid-1980s but since then there has been a growing trend to higher solids storage method. More recently, filter presses to produce an even higher solids residue have become increasing common. In many ways it is discouraging that despite so much work over the last century only some 2 to 3% of the 150 million tonnes of bauxite residue produced annually is used in a productive way. Some of the applications have been economically beneficial for a number of years and then factors have changed which renders them no longer economically viable. However, it is vital to consider how changes in process technology or demand requirements over time means that ideas previously considered not worth exploiting can become viable and commercially attractive. From the process side, improvements include: The increasing use of press filters will give residues with lower moisture levels, lower soda levels, lower contaminants, lower pH levels; the higher efficiency electro-magnets that are now available allows for more effective iron recovery from bauxite residue. Meanwhile the growing demand for scandium in aluminium alloys or the demand for particular rare earth elements also present new opportunities. In addition, public, corporate and government attitudes have never presented such an encouraging environment for developing and implementing bauxite residue uses.  Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to Katy Tsesmelis of World Aluminium and George Banvolgyi for very helpful comments on the manuscript. For references and a more detailed version of this article, please visit www.aluminiumtoday.com/features Aluminium International Today

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This paper was presented at the ICSOBA 2015 conference

Developing bauxite projects Balancing technical and logistical considerations. By Filip Orzechowski*

The aim of this paper is to discuss how to correctly bring a bauxite project through the different study levels without losing focus on the key drivers. At present, there are well developed international best practices as well as various international reporting codes, which enable work to be progressed while maintaining the key features of transparency, materiality and competence. A project development path (including various study levels as presented in Fig 1[1]) is dependent on the individual company’s or investor’s approach driven by their specific objectives, timeframes, marketing etc. In both buoyant and stressed market conditions it is often attractive to fast track or skip a particular technical study stage (for example scoping or PFS). However, in order to do so it is always important for the company to understand both the opportunities (potentially reduced cost and timescale) and the risks (selection of a non-optimal solution, requirement to do rework, or, in the worst case, even project failure). In order to understand these risks it is imperative that the company assess each of the technical disciplines to identify where the risks lie and the potential probability and magnitude of the impacts. This paper aims to introduce the different technical disciplines, their relative importance and the potential risks and opportunities that are presented when considering a typical West African bauxite project at a scoping study level of development.

The SRK Group has an established track record in delivering technical studies and reports for the bauxite and alumina industry. Table 1 presents a summary of recent bauxite and alumina projects completed by SRK split by geography, asset and mandate type. In terms of the competent persons reports (CPR) and multidisciplinary studies, this would often include broad multidisciplinary assessment concluded with economic modeling to support the declaration of Ore Reserves. The nature of such multi-disciplinary consulting work very often leads our clients to choose SRK to ultimately manage the whole study process. As a result, SRK has developed a robust understanding of the different decision points and projects phases, differing client requirements, reporting standards, permitting and regulatory requirements and overall market. A consultant’s perspective Without doubt, studies related to developing projects that come across a consultant’s desk are always at differing stages and supported by differing levels of detail. No two bauxite (or other commodity) projects are identical; some are rich in information and well documented, while others have only limited data. Quite often there is limited information beyond the immediate problems the client is experiencing. For example, for one such bauxite project, SRK was requested to do a series of technical reviews covering a span of a few years, focused mainly on

the logistics and economics associated to exporting the project, but was provided with limited geological information of low confidence. Ultimately, it was discovered that the quality of the deposit was poor and that the Mineral Resource much lower than expected and unlikely to be sufficient to develop a new project. On the other hand, some projects may have been subject to extensive exploration and resource development, whereby the total resource delineated may be far in excess of the requirements of a typical lending scenario of 20-30 years, and therefore the funds expended could have potentially been funneled into more immediate goals to bring the project to market in a more timely manner. There may be almost unlimited situations, but typically SRK deals with technical studies where the main objective would be:  Declaration of Mineral Resources to be used for funding further investigations and project development;  Technical review to determine fatal flaws and define a work programme to take the project forward to the next developmental stage;  Technical review and study in order to apply for a mining licence; and/or  Undertaking a Scoping, Pre- or Feasibility Study (including the definition of Ore Reserves) to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of the project in order to support project financing.

*Consultant (Mining Engineering), SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd Aluminium International Today


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Mineral resource

Ore reserve 100

Detailed engineering

Contingency (%)

Project value


Feasibility study

90 80 70 60

Pre-feasibility study Acc


Accuracy & contingency

Perceived risk/uncer



cy (


40 30 20

Scoping study


Volume of projects

0 Confidence

Fig 1. Fundamentals of technical study levels

When clients are looking for external financing the focus is typically towards authoring technical reports (and associated studies) which comply with International Reporting Codes, such as the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves, the JORC Code, 2012 Edition (JORC); the Canadian National Instrument 43-101; South African Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserve (SAMREC); the PanEuropean Reserves & Resources Reporting Committee (PERC), etc. The advantages of using internationally recognised reporting codes is that they impose a specified approach to reporting which is aimed at presenting the work conducted in a transparent manner, whilst placing the reliance on a competent person (suitably qualified and experienced) to extract and present those aspects which are material to the project. Fig 1 presented above illustrates the progression through the different technical study stages, highlighting the degrees of engineering, basis of design, accuracy of cost estimation, and level of contingency typically deemed applicable. The progression from one stage to another is designed to transition from a low confidence and high risk position through to high confidence and low risk perspective. Each study stage should conclude with a decision whether or not to proceed into a subsequent stage and plan the next steps. March/April 2016


Omitting milestones in this process can lead to delays and unforeseen difficulties, which is usually expressed as an extra cost to the investor. In some cases, however, such practices may take place, but with the understanding of the inherent risks and potential negative effects in order to expedite the project, and take advantage of short-term demand. At the Scoping level stage of the project development process, the available options for each discipline need to be analysed and the materiality of the discipline assessed. Consequently, certain options can be excluded and others can be accepted for more detailed consideration at the subsequent stage and built into the overall project schedule. Gradually, as the Project progresses through the study stages

typically it starts with a cost estimation accuracy of ±40% to finish at a level of around ±10 to 20% at Feasibility Study level. Overprinted on this generalised study progression should be a consideration of the relative importance of the individual disciplines associated to the specific project. Below is a summary of the key focuses and perceived impacts based on SRK’s experience for a typical West African bauxite project at a Scoping level of development. Disciplines with perceived high impact: Geology – focus is to develop a robust understanding of the style and extents of mineralisation, to define sufficient Mineral Inventory/Mineral Resource to support the project life base case/ Life of Mine (LoM). Also to characterise bauxite (including mineralogy) sufficiently to support the definition of the product quality and potential processing options available (market potential). This would make a foundation for confirming project scale and ability to produce a marketable product and be a driver for mining method, processing requirements and methods. Logistics – focuses on option studies to define potentially viable export solutions, understanding of existing infrastructure, third party agreements in place and realistic assessment of whether the complete interconnected logistic solution(s) could be secured, have sufficient capacity and what investment (upgrades/additions) may be required. It includes development of preliminary operating and capital costs associated to each option to be taken forward. This is often a flaw for the project; as many known deposits remain in remote areas. Cost to export the product is typically a significant part of the overall operating and capital cost for the project.

Studies by Asset Location

Type of Studies and Operations






MRE** or MRE Update




CPR* & Due Diligence




Multi - or Discipline Technical Study




Ore Reserve Estimates




Asset Type



Open Pit Mine




Underground Mine


Saudi Arabia


Exploration Property


Sierra Leone






* Competent Person Report ** Mineral Resource Estimate *** Some studies involved more than one objective or were repetitive

Table 1. Bauxite Studies by SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd 2005 – 2015.

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Disciplines with perceived moderate impact: Environmental and Social Study – this mainly includes the Environmental and Social Scan. It should be noted that relatively large areas are impacted by mining operations, which have the potential to impact on the environmental and social setting. Mining – focus should be made on the definition of mining method - to consider free dig or blasting. Strategic mine planning would analyse blending requirements and quality management in order to satisfy product specification over the LoM. Preliminary mine sequencing relative to the multiple plateaus is usually involved, considering haulage distances etc. Cost of mining is usually relatively small when compared to logistics; however, insufficient studies (see Geotech) present a danger of selecting non-optimal mining method. Typically, low strip ratio, where overburden waste is backfilled. Disciplines with perceived low impact: Geotechnics – focus is made on excavatability, which feeds into mining method selection as slope stability has typically minimal impact on mine design. Hydrology – look into any potential surface water management (SWM) issues. Plateau and flank deposits typically avoid large drainage features and as a consequence SWM is typically reduced to managing run-off and direct precipitation. Intense wet season climatic conditions may impact product moisture content and transportability. Hydrogeology – focus on establishing ground water level relative to pit depth. But bauxite mines are typically strip mines operating at shallow depths, therefore no/ minimal de-watering is required. Water Supply (low impact only with assumption that no washing is required) – focus on potential water sources. It is only critical where bauxite washing/ processing may be required; Mineral Processing (washing) and Waste Management – it defines whether beneficiation (washing, crushing or sizing) is required to meet product specification. Where beneficiation is required, appropriate recoveries and resultant product qualities should be defined. Infrastructure – focuses on considering potential supply options. Minimal power requirements are usually taken from the local grid or on-site diesel power generation is organised. It is noticeable that despite many disciplines having low impact on the overall project, there are two major areas not to be overlooked, namely Geology and Logistics, which require investment of significant Aluminium International Today


effort at the Scoping level of study. That Geology is the project’s fundamental starting point feeding into all disciplines may seem obvious, but the apparently simple nature of bauxite deposits can mean that sometimes it is overlooked. All too often Logistics are found by SRK to be a fatal flaw in bauxite projects, due to the lack of major infrastructure like railway and sea ports which are large capital investments occurring at the early stage of development. The following sections discuss the two disciplines of Geology and Logistics in further detail to show why are they so crucial in developing bauxite projects. Geology Taking West African bauxite deposits as an example it may be said that they usually consist of a series of plateaux, subdivided into smaller mining blocks. It is worth mentioning that this kind of placement is often associated with deposits covering

a large surface area and with potentially significant mineral resources, largely exceeding requirements for around 20 years of the LoM, the period usually required to support the project financial base case. SRK often sees projects where significant effort has been made to cover the entire license area with exploration drilling in order to declare the maximum possible MRE. Whilst this may be a company directive it should be realised that for the majority of those projects, a 20 year LoM is sufficient to support the business case, and therefore attempts to explore a wider area which would exceed the required finance period and may result in delays to the project and misallocation of funds which could be better focused on other aspects of the project, such as characterisation testwork or logistics. It is also noticed that in many projects an important amount of historical information in the form of data and technical studies is available, but too often it is in poor shape and requires significant efforts to validate the results prior to them forming part of a Mineral Resource estimate in line with current international

best practices. In support of the resource definition the project should also focus on defining a saleable product and as such the following characteristics should typically be investigated:  Mineralogical profile;  Total Alumina and Available Alumina % (TAA);  Total SiO2 % and reactive SiO2 %; In terms of bauxite sales and alumina production it is generally understood that bauxite with TAA grade exceeding 45% is considered to be high grade bauxite[2]. These parameters will ultimately dictate the processing route (if considered in the project), generally low or high temperature Bayer refining to produce alumina, and the associated processing costs. For the purposes of defining that the bauxite has reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction (required when declaring a MRE[3]) an economic

assessment of the project must be considered. In the case of bauxite deposits this typically takes the form of a stripping ratio assessment, whereby thickness cutoffs are typically applied to waste and bauxite. Depending on the study level under investigation and according to the reporting codes, the MRE should define which classification applies to the different parts of the deposit. At the Scoping or preliminary assessment stage it is acceptable to include resources falling into the Inferred classification category. However, more advanced Prefeasibility or Feasibility studies are expected to have at least Indicated resources, which allow the declaration Ore Reserves when all requirements/modifying factors have been derived or tested and satisfied. Logistics The logistics aspects of bauxite export projects are often the largest contributing factor to the cost and therefore the main drivers for the technical study requirements and investigations. The extent to which the project costs associated with logistics are March/April 2016

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dictated by logistics depends on factors such as project location in undeveloped countries and proximity to existing logistics infrastructure such as roads, railways, or ports. At early stages of the development process it is important to evaluate all of the “reasonable” options available to the project, in order to discount those which are technically and economically unfeasible and to identify those options which are worthy of further investigation. For example, many different options to export the material may be visible and should all be considered as long as they seem to be “reasonable” in relation to current levels of project knowledge and confidence. The purpose of any subsequent study stage, post Scoping study, would be to focus in on one or two of the most attractive options and then select the most optimum solution and study it in more detail. It is therefore common within a Scoping study to make a series of technical and organisational assumptions as an economic viability check. Those assumptions will need to be verified later in the process for the option(s) taken forward. Typically, such a list of assumptions related to logistics may consider the following:  Level of moisture in the final product;  Location of the sea port, use of existing stock yards or developing new infrastructure;  Different transport corridors/routes including existing and non-existing haul routes, railways, ports and barging connections;  Use of existing third party infrastructure to reduce the capital expenditure required for the project; and  Use of contractors leading to minimising the capital but increase in operating costs. In the early project stages, financial analyses are made around these assumptions to understand the project sensitivity and impact for each of them. It is noted that often in the case of bauxite projects there is a requirement for significant investment in infrastructure. The nature of this type of mining and exporting project does not allow for delay in those investments and all infrastructure needs to be ready prior to production of the first exported tonnes. That means money needs to be spent upfront, which is never a preferred option. As a result, often the preferred solution incorporates a scenario with minimal capital costs committed upfront using existing facilities, which are then expanded once the project has started generating cash flow. From SRK’s experience of a large number of bauxite projects located in undeveloped countries around the world, cost related to logistics and materials handling is a March/April 2016



significant proportion of the development and operating costs. Operating costs can contribute to as much as 60 to 80% of the overall operating cost[2], calculated over the LoM. Dependent on whether the project is able to utilise existing infrastructure or construct its own, capital costs can also play a major role. New infrastructure would usually mean developing new road(s), railway line, stockyard or barging port etc. In other words, these are always major elements. Therefore, contracting those services is a potential option to be considered. It would help to minimise the capital costs, time for construction and relay on services provided by third parties. Potentially, it may also save time needed to make the development completed. Conclusions As has been discussed, one of fundamental aspects in a mining project is geology and the way it has been documented and with what level of confidence. Depending on the study level, a Mineral Resource Estimate should be declared and contain resources assigned to appropriate classifications, defined by internationally recognised Reporting Codes. For Scoping level studies, at least Inferred category should be present in the MRE with the potential for improving it to Indicated and/or Measured. It is clear that in light of the MRE being a foundation to the entire project it has a serious influence on the overall study and outcomes from other disciplines. Unfortunately, very often in case of the West African bauxites there is usually a reasonable volume of historical geological information but it has reported in a way that is insufficient to satisfy current internationally recognised reporting standards. Once the geological situation has been clarified, subsequent technical considerations come into play. Disciplines such as mining, hydrology and hydrogeology, infrastructure, geotechnics, environment and social have low to moderate influence and are often not significant to this type of project. Despite that, they should be properly assessed as otherwise there is a risk that the selected solutions or scenarios will not be optimal to the project. At the end these are costs and economic outcome, which decide the project’s economic viability. The biggest focus in that regards is to the project logistics. It appears to be very common that more than 60% of the total operational costs over the LoM are related to logistics. This demonstrates that logistics potentially have a huge economic impact on the project’s economics and therefore all

possible options should be considered to define the optimum scenario brought forward to more detailed studies. So, what should be the most important areas to focus on in the early stages of developing a bauxite project? First of all, available options and scenarios should be defined with a clear set of assumptions. The assumptions will influence the level of confidence, which is typically high in that part of the process, but will be confirmed or eliminated in the subsequent studies. Obviously, without the bauxite mineral resource there can be no project. The fact that mining bauxite is usually relatively simple and cheap when compared to the overall cost should also not decrease its importance in the technical assessments carried out. On the other hand, the location and remoteness of a deposit can indeed act as a fatal flaw to the project because of the huge capital required to start production or the significant operating costs relating to the transportation of the product. Therefore, the answer to this question is probably somewhere in between. It will strongly depend on the situation specific to the individual project; but generally, based on SRK observations and experience, this paper reaches the following conclusions: Geology and logistics are the main big areas for consideration, especially for West African bauxite projects. Quality of the bauxite resource is critical, given the potentially large areas and volumes that are available in many deposits, and activities should be focused on understanding the portion of the deposit that is of the best quality and thickness to provide the LoM feed for the project, rather than simply trying to define as big a tonnage as possible. Logistics play a major role in costs and economic analysis, and for very remote sites that require completely new infrastructure, logistics may be the controlling factor, but a comprehensive geological assessment and thorough assessment of the resource will still be needed in order to influence whether it worth undertaking extensive logistical and infrastructure assessments.  References 1. Lucks, T., Campodonic, M., Developing Bauxite Projects: The Path to Feasibility Study and Funding, Global Bauxite Conference, (2015), Kuala Lumpur 2. SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd, Internal Databases (2015) SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd, Internal Databases (2015) 3. Australasian Joint Ore Reserves Committee, The Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves, (2012) Aluminium International Today

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Bauxite waste disposal Bauxite miners find highly varied solutions to waste disposal. Michael Schwartz* explains Managing the physical products from bauxite mining in the aftermath of extraction imposes varied demands. The mining may have taken place as shallow as two feet below the surface or, as in the case of several bauxite mining operations in the Nothern Urals, about 1km underground. Even this latter figure was overtaken in April 2015 with the launch of Russia’s deepest mine; Rusal’s startup complex at the CheremoukhovskayaGloubokaya bauxite mine in the North Urals will descend 1,550m. Needless to say, when a mine closes there will be socially important issues – and they are as different from one another as the original extractive techniques. In shallow workings, strip mining means the removal of topsoil and the consequent dust which emerges from soft rock as a fine clay, as well as the bauxite itself, which also generates considerable dust. Ground water pollution from clay and bauxite fines is a problem as well: The Malaysian government at one point imposed a three-month ban on bauxite exports to lower the then-existent pollution levels. Underground bauxite operations present the typical combination of issues for an underground metal ore mine, where water management is prominent. After the bauxite has been sent to the

alumina refinery to recover the aluminium oxide
(Al2O3) by the Bayer process, it typically has a grade of 45-55% Al2O3 (although it can be as low as 40% and as high as 60%). In addition, 
there can be an amount of silica with a ratio to the Al2O3 typically not lower than eight, but usually within the range of 10, 12, 13, 15 and higher. Yet another component of the bauxite is iron oxide, which can be present in various forms, e.g, hydrated, not hydrated, Fe 3+ (frequently) and Fe 2+(more seldom). Other impurities comprise organic matter TiO2, minerals
containing sulphur, chromium and others. The role of digestion… Key to the Bayer process is bauxite digestion in the recycled solution, containing asodium hydroxide. This process is accomplished within atmospheric tanks, continuous autoclaves
- varying in size from approximately 20m3 through to 70m3 and ranging as high as 300m3 - or tubular digesters. During digestion the alumina is extracted to the solution, as are the remaining minerals, including iron, titanium and calcium, as well as some alumina which have reacted with the silica within the aluminosilicates and which will stay in the

solid phase as a leach residue called red mud. …and red mud This red mud is separated from the solution via the multi-stage counter current decantation circuit, ie, red mud thickening and washing. Older plants for this process comprise five-ten sequential washing thickeners, while more modern plants use two-three stages followed by
filtration. The slurry produced via older circuits comprises 30-50% solids, while modern circuits involve filter cake with 3845%
moisture. The typical composition of red mud solids is about 40% Fe2O3, 9-16% Al2O3, 4-12% SiO2 and about 4%
Na2O plus other impurities depending on the bauxite composition. The liquid phase of the red
mud slurry - has 3-10 g/l Na2O including sodium hydroxide, sodium aluminate, sodium carbonate, sulphates and other salts. Red mud research Stockpiling and the comprehensive utilisation of red mud formed the subjects of a recent review by two lecturers at Chongqing University, China. Writing in Materials, Dong-Yan Liu and Chuan-Sheng Wu of the College of Civil Engineering,

*Correspondent March/April 2016

BAUXITE Michael.indd 1

Aluminium International Today

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the authors divide red mud stockpiling into both the design and safe operation of the stocking yard. The authors then provide secondary qualifications, namely effective recycling of components, resource utilisation and applications within environmental protection. For both writers, the use of red mud as a building material and filler material forms the most effective way to reduce the stockpiling of red mud. However, red mud used as an environmental remediation material is a new hotspot, which both authors consider worthy of promotion for its simple processing and low cost. Stockpiling, for these authors, means the potential threat of red mud containing industrial alkali, fluoride, heavy metals and other potential pollutants seriously polluting the surrounding soil, air and groundwater. As a key example, the authors quote a dike breach at the red mud stockpiling yard at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar Zrt alumina plant in Hungary on October 4, 2010. It released an unprecedented 600,000-700,000m3 of caustic red mud. (In this accident, the red mud was released as a 1–2m wave, flooding a town and a village and killing 10 people and injuring 150. The spill then entered the Danube. Particularly wet conditions may have contributed to the accident. The Hungarian Prime Minister at the time presumed human error was responsible.)

China, according to a world review in redmud.org, tends to take a different approach from other countries; red mud disposal can often take the form of landfill although it has been reported by academic researchers that 10% of red mud is being recycled and even reprocessed for further metal extraction. Whichever solution is adopted, red mud disposal is a major dilemma. Again consulting redmud.org, conventional disposal has comprised clay-lined dams or dykes, which red mud slurry is simply allowed to dry naturally. The immediate environment of the area has on occasion witnessed differing designs. Examples include:  Double sealing with a polymeric membrane in addition to clay lining;  Drained disposal systems which have lowered the environmental threat; and  Dry disposal of bauxite residue, via enhanced dewatering and evaporative drying, which has further lowered environmental risks and reduced overall disposal costs. One other method of disposal which was once frequent but which is now found at just seven alumina plants out of the 84 that exist, is disposing of waste into nearby seas. This takes place where land is scarce and is carried out in a planned fashion.

One key example of disposal at sea is Japan, where most red mud is deposited after neutralisation. As an antidote, Japanese aluminium manufacturers introduce pre-treatment techniques even before the Bayer process to reduce the amount of red mud discharged. One final example of research comes from Australia where Virotec International Ltd has announced its red mud treatment process that results in a material safe in several applications. Here, seawater is employed to convert soluble alkalinity (sodium hydroxide is predominant here) into low soluble minerals, which are basically calcium and manganese hydroxides and carbonates and hydrocarbonates. Also reduced is the pH of the red mud, which can be lowered to pH < 9. This technology has been patented and therefore several products with the name Bauxsol™ are available. Conclusions Disposal of what appear to be waste products from bauxite operations takes many very varied forms, including disposal at sea where necessary. What has emerged in recent years is a range of extremely useful – and commercially successful - byproducts. The author acknowledges the help he received from DRA Taggart in Toronto in researching this article. 

Interview – Alcoa of Australia Alcoa of Australia operates many sites in Western Australia, including two bauxite mines, three alumina refineries, two dedicated port facilities, a nursery site for mine site rehabilitation, and a gas pipeline. The company is 60% owned by Alcoa Inc and 40% by Alumina Ltd. Aluminium International Today had the opportunity to interview Brian Doy, Director, Corporate Affairs and Human Resources, Alcoa Refining & Alcoa of Australia. He explained just how varied bauxite to alumina ratios could be, even within one single country. Replying to the question as to whether the ratios of six tonnes of bauxite to two tonnes of alumina to one ton of aluminium is normal for Alcoa of Australia, he replied that this particular ratio, “is peculiar to Western Australia Darling Range bauxite. For example, the bauxite we mine in Western Australia has an available alumina content of approximately 30-33% whereas bauxite in northern Australia has an available alumina content

Aluminium International Today

BAUXITE Michael.indd 2

of up to 50%...In general terms it takes approximately two tonnes of alumina to make one tonne of aluminium metal.” Brian Doy also revealed uses for the sand generated during bauxite operations when it is sold on rather than retained onsite by Alcoa of Australia: “Alcoa in Western Australia has developed a process to wash and carbonate the sand so that it can be considered for use as a product in a number of applications, including top dressing of turf for recreational uses, road construction, industrial land development, and limited uses in urban land development within subsurface drainage systems. There is interest in commercialising the product. “Several trials of ReadyGrit™ have been conducted including:  ReadyGrit™ as an alternative to limestone and local sand as sub-base and sub grade in road construction;  Top dressing alternative to yellow sand on sports fields;  Bunker sand on a golf course; and

 Fill for industrial land as an alternative to natural sand. “All have been successful. Unfortunately, a clear regulatory framework does not yet exist in Western Australia through which industrial by-products can be assessed and approved.” In the case of embankment design, Brian Doy confirmed that Alcoa designs its residue areas in accordance with very high engineering standards, which incorporates consideration of extreme storms, high annual rainfall and earthquakes. Alcoa also consults with community stakeholders to develop Long Term Residue Management Strategies, this including consideration of the size and height of residue storage areas. Regarding the crucial factor of water, Alcoa of Australia uses fit-for-purpose water from a range of sources including run-off water collected from its own property, bore water and recycled process water.

March/April 2016

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Lowering environmental impact The Research Council of Norway and the state of Pará in Brazil has agreed on a new research collaboration. The agreement is important for Hydro’s research on biodiversity and forest rehabilitation after bauxite mining. In 2013, Hydro joined an extensive research collaboration (Biodiversity Research Consortium (BRC)) with the University of Oslo and three Brazilian research institutions to provide a researchbased approach to replanting after Hydro’s bauxite mining in the state of Pará in Brazil. In connection with a recent BRC seminar in Pará, which Crown Prince Haakon also attended, a new letter of intent on academic collaboration and exchange was signed between Pará and the Research Council of Norway. Replanting efforts Hydro’s vice president responsible for environmental issues, Bernt Malme, is very pleased that the letter of intent comes just three years after Hydro initiated the BRC research collaboration. This agreement is highly significant according to Malme, who says that Hydro now has an even stronger foundation for reforestation. “Our goal with BRC is to have a scientific basis for the rehabilitation of forests in Paragominas. The signing of a letter of intent for increased joint research between Norway and Brazil means a lot for our efforts. It appears that Brazil has largely halted deforestation in the Amazon. The challenge now is to start replanting and ensure that the interventions we make are restored as quickly as possible and meet March/April 2016

BAUXITE Hydro.indd 1

a high standard. Research collaboration is part of the solution, and therefore this new agreement is important,” says Malme. Research collaboration Fridtjof F. Unander, division director in the Research Council of Norway, says lessons learned from Hydro's presence in northern Brazil, and BRC, were important inspirations to obtaining the agreement. The Research Council has not previously funded projects in Pará, and beyond BRC, where the University of Oslo is involved, there has been little Norwegian research effort on forest rehabilitation in Brazil. “I am very pleased that we are now increasing the level of Norwegian-Brazilian research collaboration. Brazil is a priority country for Norwegian bilateral joint research, and investing in environmental and climate related research, particularly regarding forests, is an important part of the collaboration with Brazil. Research on deforestation, carbon storage and reforestation are important both for Brazil and the world,” says Fridtjof F. Unander. Return to the same or higher standard Alberto Fabrini, executive vice president of Bauxite and Alumina in Hydro, underlines the importance of obtaining in-depth knowledge about reforestation to ensure

that bauxite mining has minimum impact on the environment. He points out that if Hydro is to succeed, the company must do more than simply comply with current laws and regulations. “We strongly believe that aluminium is part of the climate solution. But to succeed, we must work hard to reduce the environmental impact throughout the entire value chain, and especially here in Brazil. When we conduct mining activities to extract bauxite, we affect the environment – and we want this impact to be as small as possible. We should not only meet the industry standard. We need to set new standards and follow best practice,” says Fabrini. Hydro’s mining operations in Paragominas in Pará State take place in areas where large tracts of rainforest were cleared by farmers who raised cattle there decades ago. As a result, bauxite mining is seldom found in areas with pristine rainforest. It is Hydro’s ambition however that the rehabilitated forest in the area will be returned to a standard, which is comparable to the original rainforest. For this reason, Hydro has engaged several researchers to map biodiversity in the area.  Contact www.hydro.com

Aluminium International Today

3/21/16 9:49 AM



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The AGVs are also successfully applied for the handling of the scraps to the foundry. The automation offers immediate economic advantages, thanks to the reduction of labour engaged in the operations and the high efficiency performed by the AGVs; such features will enable a quick pay-back of the investment. Beside the economic advantages, there is another very important and inestimable advantage: the safety. The application of AGVs in the primary aluminium industry grants a very high safety level. 

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Energy optimisation: A plant-wide focus In the second-part of this feature article from Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), attention turns to energy optimisation beyond smelting operations. EGA’s focus on energy optimisation extends way beyond its smelter operations to embrace other operational areas of the business. For example, both EGA Jebel Ali and EGA Al Taweelah have captive power plants, making both operations effectively selfsufficient in terms of energy requirements. Nevertheless, the broader sustainability agenda at EGA is translated into ongoing efforts to minimise power consumption. Through on-going optimisation efforts, the thermal efficiency of the EGA Jebel Ali power plant has improved over the years and in 2013, it reached its highest-ever level of 46%. Greater thermal efficiency means increased power generation to produce hot metal, while the fuel requirement increment is proportionately less – with direct environmental benefits in terms of fossil fuel combustion and associated environmental emissions. The thermal efficiency of the EGA Al Taweelah power plant, a much newer utility, was 47.85% in 2013. After completion of the EGA Al Taweelah Phase II expansion, net efficiency has been recorded at 51.62%. Moreover, the co-generation configuration of both power plants means that a substantial proportion of the power generated is fuel-free – approximately 27% at EGA Jebel Ali; and 34.8% at EGA Al Taweelah. In addition, waste heat from the EGA Jebel Ali power plant is used to produce potable water through a sea water desalination plant. Alternative energy sources Although the location of EGA’s smelter operations in the UAE ensures an abundant source of energy, primarily natural oil and gas, EGA strongly supports national

and regional efforts to find and adopt alternative energy sources. Particular support is given to the integrated energy strategies implemented by the UAE which address (among other aspects) demand abatement, diversifying the nation’s energy mix and the adoption of renewable energy sources – which will collectively ensure a higher level of energy security. For example, EGA Jebel Ali is a member of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) and, as a corporate entity, is implementing the directives issued to all DSCE member companies regarding the Dubai Government’s measures to minimise energy consumption and fulfillment of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 (DIES 2030). EGA Jebel Ali’s efforts in this area resulted in approximately 40,000 MWh having been saved between initial implementation of the directives in April 2011 and the end of 2014. In 2013, the absorption chiller installed at EGA Jebel Ali became the UAE’s firstever absorption chiller set-up in a power plant using excess heat to produce chilled water for comfort cooling. Installed on the rooftop of the desalination plant control building, the absorption chiller has replaced the electrically-driven vapour compression chillers used previously. It consumes less than 1 tonne/hour of steam and has reduced the site’s energy consumption by approximately 780,000 kWh per year, simultaneously reducing the smelter’s carbon footprint. EGA’s renewable energy efforts to date have included EGA Jebel Ali’s investment of AED20 million in Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park (Dubai) Phase I (13 MW); participating in a feasibility study

relating to the establishment of clean coal-fired power stations in the UAE; and building a mini solar field at EGA Jebel Ali (70 kW). Under the sponsorship of the Executive Affairs Authority in Abu Dhabi, EGA Al Taweelah is working closely with TRANSCO and ADWEA to optimise gas utilisation within the Emirates. Several initiatives that will contribute towards establishing a more efficient grid are at various stages of implementation. Conserving the environment The focus on energy optimisation is part of the bigger environmental conservation ambition at EGA, where ‘greening’ aluminium takes a prime position on the corporate agenda. “Our corporate ambition is ‘zero harm to people and the environment’,” explains Frank Briganti (Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety, Fire and Security at EGA). “We continually strive for and maintain some of the highest standards in environmental protection – from optimising raw material usage through effective energy-use management, to minimising environmental impact through stringent management of air emissions, effluent discharge and waste. We also install the best available technology for containing and monitoring our environmental impact, and continually innovate our processes and technologies to achieve better environmental performances.” Emissions In terms of air emissions, a fluoride emissions management system (FEMS) has been introduced to reduce and control fluoride emissions at EGA’s smelters, and

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a 22% reduction has been achieved since 2010. The associated reduction in the environmental impact at EGA Jebel Ali has been confirmed through repeated studies by experts on the vegetation surrounding the smelter operation, since 2006. A close watch is kept on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with the help of the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), to ensure that these are contained within international standards. In 2014, EGA Jebel Ali met or performed better than virtually all measures relating to the environment, specifically with regard to overall PFC emissions, which were substantially lower than the IAI industry average of 0.27 t CO2eqv/t Al. EGA Jebel Ali achieved 0.085 t CO2eqv/t Al – 88% down on 1990 levels; while EGA Al Taweelah achieved 0.078 t CO2eqv/t Al. Ambient air is monitored in neighbouring communities, using mobile stations that are linked directly to environmental authorities. Carbon footprint As an active member of the DSCE, EGA Jebel Ai has always been one step ahead when it comes to environmental commitment and energy conservation. EGA Jebel Ali developed its first comprehensive Carbon Management Strategy (CMS) and implementation in late-2008. Its long-term carbon strategy consists of a policy and objectives, divided into three objective driven phases, each comprising of a series of specific options. The options are assessed according to feasibility, cost and benefit in order to priorities implementation. The execution of the implementation plan allows us to manage our carbon emission reduction. The strategy was adopted by EGA Jebel Ali operations and has achieved a significant reduction in GHG emission from 2009 to 2015 – down almost 13 per cent in total GHG intensity (t/t) and almost 5 per cent in absolute terms (equivalent to 1.34 million tonnes). Also, EGA Jebel Ali is the major contributor to manufacturing sector reduction as part of the Dubai’s Carbon Abatement Strategy 2021 (“DCAS 2021”), which set the course of actions to be adopted by Dubai Government in order to manage Dubai’s GHG emissions until 2021 compared to its ‘business as usual’ scenario. DCAS supports the national longterm Green Economy for Sustainable Development initiative to enhance the competitiveness and economic sustainability of the UAE, and make it a global role model in sustainability and green initiatives. It also complements the DIES 2030 objectives to reduce energy consumption in Dubai by 30 per cent by 2030 – green initiatives and programmes March/April 2016

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to be implemented by members will reduce carbon emissions by about 16 per cent by 2021. At tactical level, an initiative introduced by the EGA Jebel Ali Smelter Maintenance department to reduce GHG emissions was approved in Q2 2015 by the UAE Ministry of Energy and is to be registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project, titled “The 3.3 kV Main Exhaust Fans energy-saving Project” is integral to the EGA Jebel Ali CMS and will save approximately 30 to 40% of energy consumption by using Variable Frequency Drive, which provides maximum efficiency. The lower energy consumption translates into lower GHG emissions. This is EGA Jebel Ali’s second initiative to be registered as a CDM project – the first being “Regenerative Burners for Melting Furnaces” which consume approximately 39 per cent less gas than conventional cold air burners.

Effluents and the marine environment EGA’s smelters border on the Arabian Gulf, making the marine environment the most sensitive ecological receptor in the immediate vicinity. Protected coral communities in close proximity are considered the most diverse in the region and therefore of national ecological importance. Indicative of EGA’s sensitivity to the environment and determination not to harm the corals, a self-imposed target of maintaining returning seawater within 1 degree Celsius of the ambient seawater temperature, so as to ameliorate any impact, is pro-actively implemented. Since 2009, EGA Jebel Ali has operated an online system for discharge monitoring and continually monitors site effluents, and utilises independent technical expertise

to ensure that the operations have the least possible impact on the environment. Similarly, EGA Al Taweelah works closely with Abu Dhabi Ports Company to monitor and understand the impact of the smelter operations on the offshore marine conservation environment. Judging by the healthy condition of fish species that become trapped in the intake chambers at EGA Al Taweelah, the environment is not being affected negatively Onshore, EGA Al Taweelah has witnessed rare Hawksbill Turtles returning to nest on Al Taweelah beach since 2012. Hawksbill turtles are classified by the World Wildlife Fund as ‘critically endangered’, with fewer than 80,000 specimens left in the wild. Acknowledging that one of the best ways to ensure their survival is by providing safe nesting spots for female turtles, EGA has implemented plans to provide an ideal habitat for nesting – the beach has been closed to any access and a ‘catch net’ system directs the turtles towards the sea. In addition, EGA employees clean the beach area and nearby sea of debris, including discarded fishing nets and other marine flotsam. The cleaning operation continues on a daily basis until after the hatching season. Frank Briganti adds that EGA works closely with experts from the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in Dubai to identify the most effective way of supporting the turtles. CCTV cameras with both day and night vision monitor activity on the beach. As well as recording female turtles coming ashore to nest, the cameras have also observed a wide variety of other wildlife such as gazelles, snakes, lizards and ospreys. Waste minimisation EGA’s commitment towards sustainable development and environmental protection is evidenced through waste reduction drive with the ultimate objective of zero waste to landfill. The ongoing quest to minimise, re-use and/or recycle waste and eliminate the need for landfilling has achieved excellent results, with EGA Jebel Ali consistently exceeding the Dubai Municipality’s targets in terms of recycling waste to landfill. In particular, a decision not to landfill spent potlining (SPL) has led to an alternative, sustainable solution being sought. Since 2012, 100% of the SPL generated by EGA Jebel Ali has been recycled through cement companies; the same level having been achieved at EGA Al Taweelah in 2014. More recently, EGA has been actively pursuing a strategy to self-treat and process SPL. A value-added option that will yield inert raw material for other processes is being evaluated.  Aluminium International Today

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Enhancing long-term drivers for sustainability The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) is a standards setting and certification organisation that recognises and fosters the responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium. As a member-based, global initiative, ASI is the result of producers, users and stakeholders in the aluminium value chain coming together to build consensus on ‘responsible aluminium’. Dr Fiona Solomon* explains.

ASI is developing an independent third party certification programme to ensure sustainability and human rights principles are increasingly embedded in aluminium production, use and recycling. In doing so, ASI continues to seek engagement with commercial entities and stakeholders in the aluminium value chain from across the world. A potted history of ASI ASI has been built on the strong foundation and continued work on aluminium sustainability and material stewardship by companies and industry organisations for many years. In fact it is a measure of the industry’s leadership on these issues that such significant progress has been made. ASI’s own history began in 2009, when a global group of stakeholders from the aluminium industry, civil society, research and policy organisations, and industrial users of aluminium products convened. The group discussed challenges, opportunities and needs facing the aluminium value chain as a whole and a formal study was commissioned. This resulted in a report, the Responsible Aluminium Scoping Phase Main Report,

by Track Record, which summarised the industry’s environmental, social and governance sustainability-related risks and opportunities. The report also underscored the need for an international multi-stakeholder approach that could complement existing sustainability programmes throughout the aluminium industry. This finding ultimately led to the establishment of ASI. At the end of 2012, the companies supporting the idea of an ‘ASI’ invited IUCN to be the host and coordinator for a standard-setting process to address key sustainability issues in the value chain. IUCN convened a multi-stakeholder Standards Setting Group (SSG) and coordinated the process from January 2013 to August 2015, resulting in the launch of version 1 of the ASI Performance Standard in December 2014. The supporting companies then agreed to take the next step to seek formalisation of ASI as a standards body for the purposes of developing an independent, third-party certification programme. In March 2015, ASI appointed its first Executive Director, and in June 2015 the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative Ltd was incorporated as a non-profit membership

organisation. ASI has since been working on developing both its governance model and its technical approach, with strong participation from a growing membership. It is anticipated that the ASI Certification programme will be formally launched at the end of 2017. ASI’s Standards ASI’s Performance Standard covers critical issues for the entire aluminium value chain, including biodiversity management in mining, indigenous people’s rights, greenhouse gas emissions, waste management including spent pot lining (SPL) and bauxite residue, and material stewardship, particularly for downstream users of aluminium. A Chain of Custody standard is also in development, to link responsible production with responsible sourcing and support increased emphasis on sustainability in procurement practices. During 2016, there will be opportunities for public comment on the next draft of this standard. A new Standards Committee is being convened that will oversee the finalisation of the standard. Both of ASI’s standards are designed

ASI: Vision, Mission and Values Vision: Mission: Values:

To maximise the contribution of aluminium to a sustainable society To recognise and collaboratively foster responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium.  Being inclusive in our work and decision making processes by promoting and enabling the participation of representatives of all relevant stakeholders groups  Encouraging uptake throughout the bauxite, alumina and aluminium value chain, from mine to downstream users  Advancing material stewardship as a shared responsibility in the lifecycle of aluminium from extraction, production, use and recycling.

*Executive Director, ASI March/April 2016

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Fig 1. What a Theory of Change considers

Key actors

Can include standards development and implementation, assurance, incentives, outreach, training and advocacy

ASI strategies

to be applicable internationally to all stages of aluminium production and transformation, specifically: Bauxite mining, alumina refining, primary aluminium production, semi-fabrication (rolling, extrusion, forging and foundry), material conversion, and refining and re-melting of recycled scrap, as well as material stewardship criteria relevant to consumer and commercial product design and manufacture. Like all voluntary standards and certification initiatives, ASI’s standards aim to provide a benefit to participants and users of ASI Certification. These include to:  Enable the aluminium industry to demonstrate responsibility and provide independent and credible assurance of performance;  Reinforce and promote consumer and stakeholder confidence in aluminium products;  Reduce reputational risks concerning aluminium and aluminium industry players; and  Address the needs by downstream industrial users and consumers for responsible sourcing of aluminium. Certification relies an on assurance model that includes independent third party audits. Throughout 2016 and 2017 ASI will develop and test its assurance model for the ASI Performance Standard and the Chain of Custody Standard. After the development and testing phase is successfully completed, the ASI Certification programme will commence. ASI’s Theory of Change During 2015, ASI worked on its ‘theory of change’ to define intended longterm impacts, short and medium-term outcomes, and supporting strategies to achieve them. Developing a theory of Aluminium International Today

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The likely or achieved short-term and medium-term results, from the implementation of a standards sytem’s strategies

Expected outcomes

Positive long-term effects, resulting from the implementation of a standards system

Desired impacts

change is an important step in setting up a standards system, to inform the design of the programme and establish ways to monitor and evaluate its impacts over time. Key questions to consider are highlighted in Fig 1. The multi-stakeholder Standards Setting Group, convened under IUCN, workshopped a draft theory of change with ASI during its July 2015 meetings. Participants were very strongly focused on uptake of the ASI’s standards as a priority desired impact: That companies will invest in and reward improved practices and responsible sourcing of aluminium. Potential risks to success were identified to include: Insufficient membership growth, having too much complexity in the process, costs not matched by value, or an ineffective chain-of-custody programme. Fig 2. ASI Theory of Change

Drive improved practices

Who/what are the enablers and key influencers?

Approaches and activities that standards systems use to effect change.

Production & transformation

Enablers and influencers

Who/what drives and implements improved practices?

Civil society organisations

Industrial users Downstream supporters

Associations General supporters Key actors

Potential success factors discussed included: Encouraging market pull from buyers, policy support at national levels, good governance processes, taking a risk/materiality approach to assurance, communicating the business case and added value, and taking a visionary and innovative approach. The resulting Theory of Change, shown in Fig 2, was included in ASI’s 2015-2018 Strategy and helped to set the direction for future strategy and operational plans. Consideration of the potential risks and success factors continues to inform ongoing work programmes in ASI. Certification in other sectors Certification programmes dealing with sustainability issues for raw materials are not new. They originally developed in agricultural sectors such as timber, fisheries, coffee, tea and cocoa, with a strong focus on environmental and/or social practices at the production source. Increasingly they tackle sectors with complex supply chain issues such as textiles and apparel, landscape level issues such as water stewardship, and of course metals and minerals, which span issues from mine to consumer. Programmes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) show what should also be possible for ASI: That with collaboration and momentum, voluntary standards programmes can create improved practices and significant uptake through complex supply chains. Both outcomes are required to create real impact on the ground and integrate tangible sustainability drivers into global production and procurement.

Setting and supporting Responsible practices Clear standards and assessment tools that are meaningful, practical and accessible Guidance and learning opportunities for capacity building and continuous improvement Programme implementation Open membership opportunities and flexibility in certification uptake

Reduced environmental impacts from processing residues and GHG emissions Enhanced biodiversity management Practices that implement business’ responsibility to respect human rights Increased material stewardship by all actors in Al value chain Low barriers to entry that enables wide uptake by diverse businesses

Credible assurance based on materiality and risks

Relevant, practical and consistent assessments

Innovative IT platforms to manage data and processes Transparency of outcomes and collaboration with stakeholders and systems

Efficiency and continual improvement of system

ASI strategies

Standards Sustainability and human rights principles are increasingly embedded in aluminium production, use and recycling

Uptake Companies increasingly invest in and reward improved practices and responsible sourcing for aluminium

Reputation Aluminium continues to improve its sustainability credentials with stakeholders

Enhanced ability to demonstrate impact and reduce duplication

Expected outcomes

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How to get involved in ASI As ASI is a membership-organisation, a wide range of organisations can join to support and become involved in ASI’s work programme. ASI’s into:      

six membership classes are grouped Production and Transformation Industrial Users Civil Society Downstream Supporters Associations General Supporters

Membership fees are scaled to the size and activities or each organisation, and range from a minimum of USD100 to a maximum of USD25,000. New members are always welcome and bring valuable perspectives and experiences that can inform ASI’s development. ASI membership also provides value to each member, by enabling them to:  Network with a wide range of stakeholders in a constructive dialogue about responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium  Support development of a credible

third-party certification programme that can be applied throughout the aluminium value chain  Help shape the development of tools and resources that support implementation of good practices and accessibility to a range of businesses  Be recognised as a proactive leader on responsible aluminium and leverage your organisation’s own work in this area ASI and AluSolutions The upcoming AluSolutions conference (10th and 11th May 2016, ADNEC, Abu Dhabi) will feature a dedicated ASI panel

session, which will include a detailed overview of the ASI and also introduce a number of member companies including Rio Tinto, UC Rusal, Norsk Hydro and Schüco Middle East. Visitor registration is free-of-charge and open to all aluminium industry professionals. If you would like to learn more about the ASI, then join us for AluSolutions by registering at www.alusolutions.com/register  To find out more, visit: www.aluminiumstewardship.org or contact: info@aluminium-stewardship.org

MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SHUTDOWN Under instructions from Hydro Aluminium Kurri Kurri Pty Ltd due to closure of the plant in Australia Offers are invited for the purchase and removal of the smelter assets


• • • • • • • •


Full details at www.rhas.com/hydro Enquiries: Cameron Dunsford - cameron.dunsford@aon.com or +61 2 8623 4046

First in, best dressed! Site redevelopment underway! March/April 2016

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Towards sustainable cities The in use benefits of aluminium in architecture, by Chris Bayliss*, Professor Michael Stacey** & Stephanie Carlisle***

building. The whole construction was broken down into integrated assemblies, called “chunks,” that were fabricated off site, then delivered via trailers to the site and stacked on top of each other with a crane. Eighty per cent of the construction was completed in six days3. Materials were selected to be lightweight, minimising embodied energy, and reusable within existing recycling streams. A light, adaptable, five storey aluminium frame, strengthened by custom-designed steel connectors, formed the skeleton of the building, with a SmartWrap™ skin enveloping the structure and interior floors, ceilings, and

partitions made of structural plastic. Cellophane House™ was designed for adaptability, able to respond to a range of climatic factors, solar orientations, slopes and adjacencies, which differ from site to site. The skin was envisioned as a filter, selectively letting in daylight and seasonal heat and keeping out UV light and hot or cold air, depending on the season, with the narrow profile of the aluminium frame enabling this functionality. The final experiment for this adaptable, lightweight home was its disassembly. The house was deglazed, un-stacked, and disassembled at ground level using basic handheld tools. Parts were organised on

Photograph courtesy of Adrian Toon a2n©

On 24 October 1946, Oxford’s New Bodleian Library (pictured) was officially opened by King George VI. It was not a particularly auspicious occasion – the ceremonial key broke in the lock and the King and Queen effectively had to break in to the University’s latest (and much needed) asset1. The silver key has sat in the Library’s treasury ever since, its (not very) useful life over with almost as soon as it began. The Giles Gilbert Scott designed building, however, has remained a protective and productive centre of learning for over 70 years and, as of March 2015, has started a second life as the Weston Library, following an £80 million refurbishment by architects Wilkinson Eyre2. Many elements of Sir Giles’ original building remain, however, and among these – integral to the design and function of the original, and the upgraded Library – are the windows. Aluminium windows. Anodised aluminium windows, installed in 1939, and which are expected to have a service life of at least another half century. Sixty years after the opening of the original Bodleian Library and three and a half thousand miles away in New York, an architectural project with a much shorter lifespan, but with an equally critical role for aluminium, was underway. In 2008, 500 architects were asked to submit proposals for full-scale designs reflecting the current state and future potential of prefabricated architecture to be evaluated for exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. One of five selected for construction on a site adjacent to the museum, the Cellophane House™ was a five-story home with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining space, a roof terrace and a carport. Its assembly was more like that of a car than a traditional

*Deputy Secretary General, International Aluminium Institute, **Architect and Researcher, Michael Stacey Architects ***Associate and Researcher, KieranTimberlake Aluminium International Today

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Aluminium and green buildings These examples of aluminium’s durability, lightness and strength, adaptability and reusability/recyclability in the building and construction sector, along with other demonstrations of the metal’s unique combination of properties, led the International Aluminium Institute to begin to document case studies of aluminium usage in architecture in its Aluminium & Green Building website (part of The Aluminium Story4) and subsequently to develop a three year research programme on aluminium and the built environment: Towards Sustainable Cities. About to launch the fourth report in a series of five, Towards Sustainable Cities is being undertaken by Michael Stacey Architects5 (whose portfolio includes a number of award winning, aluminium-intensive designs), with KieranTimberlake6 (the designers of the Cellophane House and architect of the forthcoming US Embassy in London) and the Architecture and Tectonic Research Group of the University of Nottingham7. A primary aim of this research is to quantify the in use benefits arising from the specification of aluminium in architecture and the built environment, to complement the relatively well understood energy (and associated emissions and waste) savings from the use of aluminium applications in transport lightweighting8 and through the recycling of aluminium scrap. A vital goal of this research is to quantify the potential contribution of aluminium towards the creation of sustainable cities; a key task as now over half of humanity lives in urban areas. Buildings account for up to 40% of global energy consumption and thus improving the overall systemic efficiency of buildings and their contents, while maintaining their value as living and working spaces, is a key aspect of sustainability. Given the ongoing growth in urban populations globally, the potential for emerging economies to design and realise “green cities” from the bottom up is a positive opportunity for decoupling human wellbeing from environmental impact. The most energy efficient buildings start with aluminium – 25% of global aluminium demand is from the construction sector. Aluminium components and designs optimise natural lighting and shade, enhance energy management and support designs that make the most of the physical environment. Being durable and corrosion resistant, aluminium March/April 2016

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Photo courtesy of Stephanie Carlisle

pallets and removed from the site in two days. Virtually no waste was generated, and 100% of the energy embodied in materials was recovered. The only remnant was a patch of gravel in an asphalt lot.


The Alcoa Building – the world’s first aluminium skyscraper This thirty storey office tower in downtown Pittsburgh was designed for the aluminium giant Alcoa by architects Harrison & Abramovitz and was opened in 1953. In December of that year Popular Mechanics described it as “the world’s first aluminum skyscraper”. It is clad in unitised pressed aluminium units measuring 1829mm by 3658mm (6’ by 12’), which were pre-glazed. The curved corner aluminium windows rotate for internal cleaning and are sealed by an inflatable gasket. Aluminium is also used extensively in the construction of these offices, from aluminium air handling ducts to plaster lathes. Inspected by Stephanie Carlisle of KieranTimberlake, in the summer of 2013, this project is described as being in remarkably good condition, with the original windows still intact. The possibility of testing the finish on the aluminium is under investigation by the research team.

components in buildings contribute to reduced maintenance over time, while the metal’s unmatched recyclability gives architects a key sustainability design tool. Aluminium’s high strength-to-weight ratio makes it possible to design light structures with exceptional stability allowing for narrow window and curtain wall frames, maximising solar gains for given outer dimensions. Aluminium’s light weight also makes it cheaper and easier to transport and handle safely on site. In Europe, around 95% of architectural aluminium is collected and recycled. Globally, buildings contain over 200 million tonnes of aluminium, which will be available for recycling by future generations time after time - an energy bank for the future.

The research programme has been structured as a series of studies based on the properties that aluminium brings to construction applications – durability, recyclability, flexibility, lightness/strength and the potential for energy saving (and energy producing) buildings that are sympathetic to their environment. The first report, Aluminium and Durability (Stacey, 2014)9, amasses case study buildings that pioneered aluminium’s use, alongside exemplary historical and contemporary examples, to evidence life expectancy for aluminium building components. The second report, Aluminium Recyclability and Recycling (Stacey, 2015)9, documents current building demolition protocols that include the collection, reuse and recycling of building materials and components. It gathers case study buildings that demonstrate re-glazing/refenestration, over cladding, retrofit, deepretrofit, and short-life building techniques – all dependent upon aluminium’s economic value and ability to be collected and continuously recycled. Aluminium and Life Cycle Thinking (Carlisle, Friedlander & Faircloth, 2015)9, the third report in the series, explores the environmental impact of durability and recyclability by investigating an aluminium building product’s life cycle, or the stages through which it passes during its lifetime. Raw materials extraction, product manufacturing, use and maintenance, and processing at the end of a product’s useful life constitute stages that may be examined in-depth to understand the environmental benefits attributable to an aluminium building product. The forthcoming Aluminium: Flexible and Light will explore the lightweight potential of aluminium structures – including bridges and formwork – as well as the flexibility that the material offers architects to design adaptable, energysaving buildings, that can be constructed (and demolished) more quickly, safely and cost effectively than traditional designs. A final report, Aluminium: Powerful and Sympathetic is planned for later in 2016. Service Life The durability research stream began with a global survey of the last 120 years’ use of aluminium in architecture and infrastructure, identifying over fifty aluminium pioneers from the 1897 dome of San Gioacchino in Prati Church, Rome, the late 19th/early 20th century English parish churches of St Mary’s Great Warley and St Edmund, King and Martyr Fenny Bentley and the imposing 1906 Postparkasse of Otto Wagner in Vienna to the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank by Foster Associates, completed in 1985. The following research question was Aluminium International Today

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formulated out of the results of this survey: “are there aluminium based projects that are fit and forgotten; functioning well for the owners and users, whilst out-performing the contract guarantees provided when they were assembled”. To answer this question, twelve projects were selected as case studies, each of them award winning and/or of historical significance and all over 25 years old. During 2012 and 2013 all twelve projects, including the Alcoa Building, were the subject of a literature review, visual inspection and photographic survey. From these projects, three were selected for in situ non-destructive testing of their finishes, including the windows of the Bodleian Library10. The timescales for the durability of aluminium established by the research, including physical testing, demonstrate that the service life of aluminium applications (in particular windows), used by organisations including building research establishments, should be revised upwards from 40 years to at least 80 years. Site or programme specific issues may limit these life expectancies, such as the use of aluminium within a swimming pool or an aggressive industrial interior. For polyester powder coating the recoating methods need to be well specified, but the oldest polyester powder coating still in service in this study is 43 years old and has not been recoated, while the guarantees offered in 1973 were only 10 years. The oldest example of PVDF coated aluminium in this study is 28 years old and looks very similar in appearance to when it was first inspected in 1988. The interim conclusion of this part of the research suggests that well specified and well-detailed aluminium architecture should be considered to be very durable and have a very long life expectancy. Aluminium components within a maintained interior, such as a church or library, appear to have an infinite life expectancy, while those exposed to the elements have a life expectancy of over 120 years. Life Cycle Assessment Life cycle thinking encourages actors across the entire value chain – manufacturers, professional architects and engineers, contractors and building owners – to be mindful of the life history of any manufactured product, and more specifically, to understand the inputs (including resources such as energy and water) and outputs (emissions to the environment) that result from the transformation of materials into product, from product to service, and from service to disposal. If life cycle thinking is a framework March/April 2016

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through which a building product’s life history is given consideration, Life Cycle Assessment, or LCA, is the modelling method used to quantify a product’s environmental impacts. LCA models may be used to study specific questions regarding the environmental impacts of a given building product across selected stages of product life. Increasingly, LCA is a modelling practice being adopted by, or mandated to, architects and engineers during the design process in order to give consideration to environmental impact information during the selection of materials, components and assemblies. The third report in the Towards Sustainable Cities contains a series of

modelling studies, using comparative LCA to explore key issues in the environmental impacts of building materials: Recycled Content and End-of-Life Recycling scenarios; service life, maintenance and durability; manufacturing inputs and service life sensitivity analysis. All three LCAs make use of a simple and common architectural component, window framing, as the object of comparison, allowing for exploration of multiple materials and assembly techniques. The results and outcomes of the study of service life, maintenance and durability are presented here. Modelling Durability Aluminium, wood, aluminium-clad wood and PVCu windows were examined using three different use scenarios associated with different maintenance regimes. Scenario 1 represents the most conservative estimate of window life; it assumes that no significant repair or replacement activities are conducted and that the entire frame assembly is disposed

of or recycled and replaced at the end of a typical manufacturer guarantee. As there is presently little consensus on true service lives for architectural products, guarantees are commonly used in published comparative LCAs of window frames, even though they do not represent a realistic portrayal of in-situ circumstance. Scenario 2 describes a basic maintenance regime in which a typical building manager or owner follows commonly prescribed maintenance practices aimed at reaching a longer life span for the window while maintaining a high level of window performance. Depending on the frame type, maintenance practices may include periodic replacement of damaged or worn components or hardware at regular intervals, and refinishing of the framing material. Scenario 3 describes a highmaintenance regime in which a building manager or owner follows best practices aimed at extending the lifespan of a high-quality window through regular and frequent maintenance practices. For wood assemblies, this includes regular recoating and refinishing of frames, while for aluminium, maintenance includes annual cleaning of the external frames. The use scenario also considers regular replacement and repair of hardware, weather stripping, or sealants as would be expected over time per assembly type to maintain thermal and moisture performance. All assemblies were modelled using endof-life disposal scenarios tuned to present construction and demolition waste diversion and recycling rates. Aluminium, steel, paper and plastics received credits associated with materials diverted from the waste stream and recycled at end of life, while wood products received credit from energy recovery associated with incineration. Results of the LCA indicate that the full cradle-to-grave impacts of aluminium window framing are far less than previously reported by other studies. When the true lifespan of aluminium products are considered across the building’s life, the global warming potential of a moderately maintained aluminium window assembly is 68% less than PVCu and 50% less than the best case scenario for aluminium-clad wood. Well maintained wood windows were found to have a 7% lower impact from a carbon perspective than the long-life scenario for aluminium-clad wood framing, and to have a nearly 30% lower impact than aluminium-clad wood windows, when the manufacturer guarantee period is used as Aluminium International Today

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Aluminium PVCu Aluminium/wood

S1 S2 S3 S1 S2

S1 S2


S1 S2 S3

Global warming (Kg CO2 Eq)




1.42+03 1.06E+03






Ozone depletion (Kg CFC-11Eq)










Smog (Kg O3 Eq)

2.87E+01 1.47E+01 1.20E+01 7.26E+01 5.37E+01

6.07E+01 4.38E+01

5.50E+01 5.13E+01 4.26E+01


Acidification (Kg SO2 Eq)

2.80E+00 1.41E+00 1.15E+00 7.96E+00 5.72E+00

5.20E+00 3.77E+00

4.54E+00 4.25E+00 3.52E+00

Eutrophication (Kg N Eq)




3.82E+00 2.77E+00






Fossil fuel depletion (MJ Surplus)




1.76E+03 1.34E+03






Window Assemblies LCA Results

an estimation of actual life cycle. However, when considering fossil fuel depletion impacts, moderately and well-maintained aluminium windows (scenarios 2 and 3) required less energy to produce and maintain over their lifetime than any of the wood scenarios. Well maintained aluminium window framing proved to be the least impactful option across all categories, in large part due to the credits delivered at end of life from recycling aluminium into future building products. Therefore, while this model was initially built to measure the importance of durability and maintenance in the use stage of the life cycle, it is clear that material reclamation and recycling at end of life is a significant contributor to reducing the embodied environmental

burdens of window framing products. Towards Sustainable Cities The second decade of the twenty first century began with an estimated seven billion people on the planet and the United Nations currently expects the global population to reach 10 billion by 2100. The sustainability challenge shared by all is to provide not only basic needs, but to meet expectations for an improving quality of life. Crucially, this socio-economic progress must be achieved while ensuring the environment remains ecologically and economically viable and able to meet the needs of future generations. The products of human ingenuity, including the versatile metal aluminium in its many applications, have a vital role

Molten Metal Level Control

to play in successfully addressing this sustainability challenge. Long life, durable, recyclable aluminium applications – which, across their full lifecycle (production, use including maintenance and at end of life), have the potential to save more resources and have a lower environmental impact than alternative materials – in well designed, well specified, well maintained buildings are critical to the eight billion people who will be living in cities in the year 2100. And perhaps some of those people might still be seeing Sir Giles’ original windows, a century and a half after they were first conceived.  For the full list of references, view the article online: www.aluminiumtoday/features

Precimeter‌Worldwide Sweden‌-‌Germany‌-‌USA‌-‌China

‌ •‌Automated‌solutions‌for‌molten‌metal‌casting‌processes





www.precimeter.com Aluminium International Today

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High-grade metals from recycling Since summer 2013, DHZ has run a bottom ash recycling plant in Switzerland. It’s latest addition is supersort®metal, which processes and purifies non-ferrous metal concentrates and other metal containing waste streams. DHZ, a subsidiary of the Eberhard group, was created in December 2009 in order to provide an environmentally aware landfill facility in the surroundings of Zurich, Switzerland, and additionally, starting in 2013, a bottom ash recycling service for the municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) industry, called supersort®technology. The company’s goal is to maximise the environmental and economic benefits of MSWI bottom ash and other metal containing waste streams by optimising recycling effectiveness and by trading with recycled metal products. supersort®technology for bottom ash treatment is based on an DHZ engineering programme and a combination of in-house research, experience in different recycling technologies and the latest methods of bottom ash processing. The DHZ Company has ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification. supersort®, in operation since summer 2013, is a dry-mechanical recycling plant which is able to recover valuable products such as ferrous and non-ferrous metals, stainless steel or CU-FE «meatballs» from MSWI bottom ash. The recycling plant processes more than 100,000 mt of bottom ash per year – a reasonable amount of the accumulated bottom ash in Switzerland. supersort® is able to maximise the separation of valuable metals in order to improve the quality of the mineral residue fraction by decreasing metal contamination far below the required level. Its convenient location next to the Häuli landfill site in Lufingen is a big advantage for the legal deposing of the mineral residue fraction. The remaining metal content of approximately 0.5% is far below the required level of 1%. In compliance with Swiss laws, the mineral residue fraction has to be landfilled and March/April 2016

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is not suitable for road construction or other uses. The direct access to the landfill reduces the additional costs and the environmental risk regarding the transport and handling of the bottom ash. Bottom ash is the largest residue fraction after the incineration of household waste and it contains on average 1 to 3% of nonferrous metals and 5 to 15% of scrap iron. For every Swiss citizen, the incinerators produce approximately 100kg of bottom ash per year. The installation of supersort®fine is another important step in the overall concept of the supersort®technology and enables the increased recovery of nonferrous metals in grain-size ranges between 0.5 and 3mm. The fraction < 3mm passes from the supersort® plant directly into the supersort®fine plant sector, where it is processed. The potential of recoverable metals in this fraction ranges between 2 and 4% and the content of valuable heavy non-ferrous and precious metals such as silver and gold is higher than in the fractions > 3mm. Thanks to the high flexibility of the supersort® recycling plant, DHZ is also able to process single sub-fractions from MSWI bottom ash (e.g. fractions in the grain sizes of 0 to 10mm) apart from raw bottom ash as a customer service. In addition, the plant can also process various other materials. These include waste streams with contaminated materials or with considerable contents of metals, batteries and organic components. The supersort®technology for bottom ash recycling and the processing of other metal containing waste streams helps to implement the resource-mining®strategy in a sustainable and efficient way. It enables an essential increase in the recovery of recyclable materials. The supersort®technology is divided into

three processing steps: 1. supersort® - the delivered MSWI bottom ash is classified into different fractions and metals bigger than 3mm contained in the bottom ash are recovered, in operation since summer 2013. 2. supersort®fine – the treatment plant processes the fraction 0.5 to 3mm from the supersort® plant and recovers further non-ferrous metal products with a higher content of precious and non-ferrous metals, in operation since December 2014. 3. supersort®metal – advanced separation technology for purifying metal products from customer plants, supersort® and supersort®fine as well as other metal containing waste streams such as shredder waste, launch in summer 2016. To further improve metal recycling, DHZ will commission the supersort®metal plant in summer 2016. For this continuative process step, a pilot plant was put into operation in February 2015. Installation work for the new facility started early in 2016. The new plant purifies metal mixtures from supersort®, supersort®fine and from other bottom ash treatment plants into high grade metal fractions. Thanks to the latest technology, the supersort®metal plant will close the gap between the smelters and the conventional bottom ash treatment installations because the resulting metals can be directly processed by smelters. The central location of the treatment plant near Oberglatt, in close proximity to Zurich Airport enables a convenient handling of input materials and products. The material – coming from Europe and Switzerland – can be delivered by truck or by train to the facility and is stored on site. The input material in the easily accessible facility is loaded into a hopper and then transferred by a conveyor belt to the treatment plant. Aluminium International Today

3/15/16 3:27 PM



supersort®metal uses a dry-mechanical separation process and produces different metal-fractions like scrap-iron or light and heavy fractions of non-ferrous metals. The light fraction consists mainly of aluminium and aluminium alloys, the heavy fraction is a mixture of copper, lead, brass and zinc. The resulting non-ferrous metal fractions are dry and feature a purity level of more than 98%. With this treatment, the aluminium fraction accomplishes the European End-of-Waste guidelines. The processing takes place within two independent lines. Line I processes particles from 8 to 100mm. Line II handles the fine fraction and recovers metals down to a grain-size of 0.3mm. The maximum productivity per line stays at 10 mt/h. If the plant runs 24/7, both lines can handle up to 100,000mt of input material per year. To run the plant, the installed electrical power accumulates at 1600 kW. A liberating process selectively brakes down the input material. The split particles can now be freed from remaining ash impurities. The next step is the segregation of the light organic particles and the ferrous metals. Using sieves, the fractions are divided up into large and small grain sizes. Finally, in the classification step, the light metals such as aluminium and aluminium alloys are separated from the heavy metals such as copper, lead or brass using a density grading process. The results satisfy the highest quality standards: Pure aluminium and pure heavy metal compound which – depending on the input material – contains mainly copper. For the environment and the working conditions inside the plant, the drymechanical treatment process is kept virtually dust-free through a de-dusting installation that cleans up to 300,000m3 of air per hour. Using high-tech analysis and quality control systems, the process is managed and the material is graded and continuously optimised by specialists. Quality and particle sizes of the purified products can be adapted according to customer specifications. The scrap dealers and the smelters can expect a consistently high product quality and a constant flow of secondary raw material. supersort®metal can process a wide variety of waste streams. The plant layout is capable of processing waste with variable particle sizes and compositions. Besides metal concentrates from the treatment of MSWI bottom ash, the plant can process automotive shredder residue (ASR) from the automobile and electronics recycling industry and other metal containing waste streams. Suitable materials contain recoverable metals and mineral or organic contents which have to be removed. Aluminium International Today

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Any remaining minerals contents are disposed in compliance with Swiss laws and unburned organics are returned to the incinerator. The removing of metals from MSWI bottom ash helps to save room in landfills and metal-free ASR can be disposed at lower costs. For the landfill contractor, the new plant is an alternative to traditional disposal options. The concept of the supersort®metal plant is able to process the following material streams: 1. Non-ferrous metals from supersort® and supersort®fine 2. Non-ferrous metals from stationary and mobile treatment plants 3. ASR, containing lighter and heavier fractions 4. Other metal containing waste According to the company, the

operations thanks to direct connections to the road and railway networks and to shipping traffic. Close cooperation with well-known freight contractors complements the service offered. The supersort®technology enables the nearcomplete recovery of metals from waste materials. This results in environmentally relevant quality improvements of the residual fraction to be disposed and helps to reduce the demand for metals such as iron, copper or aluminium from primary production. The recycled high grade metals are reused as secondary raw materials and contribute to the closing of the material cycle. Recycling helps to conserve valuable primary resources and eliminates remarkable amounts of CO2 emissions because the secondary production of

supersort®metal process recovers metals efficiently and produces high-quality secondary raw materials with purity levels of approximately 98% metal content. Thanks to the high degree of reliability and constant process monitoring, a high product standard can be guaranteed at all times, which simplifies customers’ need for planning, as well as process operation. The location of the plant allows for extremely flexible and efficient logistics

metals requires significant less energy, compared to primary production. supersort®technology – a technology able to recover recyclable materials, to close material cycles, to save emissions and all in all a great contribution for a sustainable environment.  Contact www.dhz.ch

March/April 2016

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ADVANCED FURNACE TENDING Henconâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s operator assisting technology eliminates damage, metal spillage and greatly improves health and safety.

www.hencon.com info@hencon.com De Stenenmaat 15 7071 ED Ulft The Netherlands

P.O.Box 16 7070 AA Ulft The Netherlands

T. +31 315 68 39 41 F. +31 315 63 05 29

Serving Progress Hencon_advertentie_A4.indd 3

17-9-2015 17:21:41


Fig 2. Manual skimming on smaller furnaces (unknown location)

How to achieve a sustainable casthouse This article looks at automated solutions for casthouse technology in recyclers and producers of semifinished products. By Maarten Meijer* As a supplier of material handling solutions for primary production, casthouses and semi-finished producers, Hencon is regularly invited to have a closer look at improving furnace tending operations such as skimming, cleaning and charging. Such invitations do not only provide the opportunity to start detailed discussions with customers, but they often lead to better and more sustainable solutions than anticipated beforehand. Two of the most recent of those discussions has led to new product lines with a sustainable footprint. But first let us define sustainability. Sustainable business, or green business, has minimal negative impact on the global A)




or local environment, community, society or economy - a business that strives to meet the triple bottom line. Often, sustainable businesses have progressive environmental and human rights policies. When it comes to Hencon, the company adapts these guidelines with a focus on opportunities for customers as well as its own business ethics. The direct effect of this policy can be seen in the company’s facilities that strive for the use of reusable energy and smart use of waste. For instance the factory in the Netherlands is using geothermal energy to heat the building in winter and cool it down in summer. In Russia, it uses its own waste to heat up the building and subsidiaries

all over the world socially support their local community. However, the main goal remains to bring a sustainable product line towards light metal customers. Sustainable skimmers Most of the time, machines are operated by humans and we are all aware of the ever increasing HSE standards. So it was only natural to start the development of a more sustainable product by following the HSE standards. At some point this was not good enough anymore and we took the lead with a new approach: Do things once and do them right! Or as described in the lean method, avoid waste. In order to understand this better let’s

Case A): Homogeneous oxide skin grows on the surface of the metal bath. Case B): Due to change in crystal structure and the different heat expansion of liquid metal and oxide the oxide skin breaks up. Oxide particles charged with the scrap float to the surface. Case C): The breaking of the oxide skin is additionally supported by bath movement. Case D): During skimming metal is trapped in the oxides being removed

Fig 1. Oxide skin formation on a liquid metal bath “Handbook of Aluminium Recycling”, Christopher Smitz (2006 Springer Verlag)

Fig 3. Hencon compact skimmer with zero emission drive line replacing manual skimming jobs (2014)

*Business Development, Hencon BV www.hencon.nl Aluminium International Today

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Fig 4. Hencon Furnace Charger (2002)

Fig 5. Loading station (2015)

Fig 6. Automatic scrap loader (2015)

focus on the nature of a molten aluminium bath as described in the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Handbook of Aluminium Recyclingâ&#x20AC;?, Christopher Smitz (2006 Springer Verlag). On page 79 a comprehensive picture describes the stages of the oxide layer during the melting and alloying process. Just before the melt is ready, this layer needs to be skimmed off. Which results in a mixture of oxides and aluminium to be taken out of the furnace. (Fig 1) Despite the progress being made on larger furnaces and the use of forklifts and specially designed equipment to improve skimming conditions, the majority of furnaces in use are too small to actually be able to mechanise the skimming. As a result even today it is not unusual on the smaller furnaces to see an operator doing the job as it is done in Fig 2. This kind of operation requires physical endurance and is dangerous (30% of skin burns come from this kind of skimming). It also results in more aluminium to be collected in the waste, loss of heat (due to the long time it requires the operator to finish his job) and in the end a relatively high range on the quality of the alloy. However, until now the design of the door and the shallow well made it difficult to reach the melt and did not give much room for automation or potential improvements of the situation. For a long time it was considered a mission impossible to improve the working conditions, to reduce the time the door needed to be opened and to improve the skimming process by controlling the depth of the skimming blade. Hencon took on the challenge to develop not only a safer and more sophisticated manipulator but also a drive line with zero emission. This resulted in the first mechanised skimmer capable to mechanise manual labour at compact melting and alloying furnaces. Main improvement of course is the safety of the operator who is now doing his job in a comfortable and safe cabin. On top of that modern feedback systems allow for much faster and direct skimming of a bath, thus resulting in a more constant quality. (See fig 3)

Sustainable scrap loading More or less in that same period the company received a request to have a closer look at charging high volumes of scrap into a newly designed furnace capable of recycling post-consumer scrap into pure aluminium. The original idea of this recycler was to use a rail bound scrap loader per furnace and have dump trucks driving to the scrap loader in order to charge the charging bucket as fast as possible up to the desired charging capacity and then charge the furnace with the scrap into the chamber. This request could have easily resulted in a charging machine that the company designed and delivered in 2002 (Fig 4), which is not the best sustainable solution. The advantage of this old design was the fact that it seals off the furnace while the furnace door is open for charging. This results in less heat loss and a better climate inside the casthouse. However, the requirement for frequent travel at high speed and the relatively short time the dump trucks have to recharge again form a considerable disadvantage. Furthermore this equipment gets relatively expensive (and ridged in the layout of the casthouse) if it has to work for multiple furnaces. Not to mention the additional housekeeping and loss of scrap due to the transport of scrap from the scrap yard to the hot site of the furnace. It was for this reason that we took an approach towards a new solution by using full automation from scrap yard to furnace. To give you an idea, the original solution by using a charger as shown in Figure 4 would require a total of six machines to carry out the task. A scrap box needed to be transported for approximately 250 metres to one of the three scrap loaders waiting in front of the furnaces. You can imagine the transport challenges and difficulties faced in the tight space. A compact transport design was required. In close co-operation with the customer, Hencon decided to develop one compact and fully automated transporter that was able to:

1. Pick up a scrap box 2. Transport the scrap box 3. Dock it to the furnace and 4. Execute the desired furnace loading function. Instead of six machines just two machines would be adequate enough to reach the desired capacity to put in just under 20 minutes per pay load. The total system consists of a loading station (Fig 5) and an automatic guided scrap loader (Fig 6). The loading station is designed to be a natural barrier between the dump truck and the automated area. Meaning that as long as the dump truck is loading the scrap box, the box is down on the ground, allowing for fast and precise loading. Once the box is full, the loading station will bring it to the desired height for the automated scrap loader. The scrap loader then weighs the box and confirms the final destination of the box while loading the box inside its shelter. Once loaded, the box will travel 250 metres to the selected furnace. On approaching the furnace the shelter is locked on the furnace and the furnace door is opened. After confirmation of that procedure the scrap loading box will be charged inside the furnace and retracted again. In the meantime the driver of the dump truck can prepare the next box while the scrap loader is executing its task. Once returned to the loading station, the whole cycle starts again. From a sustainable point of view, it meant less fume during charging and a reduction in the use of materials and diesel by a reduction of rolling equipment with 77%. The whole system was developed in less than a year and has in the meantime already delivered 6,000 production hours. In the near future Hencon will continue to use automated solutions in order to improve process stability and the environmental footprint of our customers. In the long-term this will lead to more zero-emission-solutions to enter the market in order to serve clients in the light metal industry with sustainable solutions that improve process conditions. î ˛

Aluminium International Today

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Join us at

AluSolutions is a free-to-attend international conference and exhibition aimed at addressing the challenges and opportunities of sustainable aluminium production and processing. The event will provide a platform to demonstrate how the aluminium industry is making continuous improvements in the environmental efficiency of producing aluminium, as well as its sustainability benefits in end-use applications. Maintaining a sustainable aluminium industry While the primary process of aluminium production is energy-intensive, the industry has recently been promoting aluminium’s use-phase benefits as outweighing these environmental disadvantages. Alongside this ‘new look’ for aluminium, recent environmental legislations mean that the primary industry is monitoring the impacts of bauxite mining, how it reduces emissions, saves energy and affects the local environment. While further downstream, as the demand for aluminium grows, rolling companies, extrusion companies and casthouses are recycling aluminium to use it over and over again in a closed loop system. The sustainability benefits of aluminium also continue into the end-use phase. In automotive and aerospace applications for example, lightweight technology has lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions, while packaging made from increasing amounts of recycled aluminium is driving a closed-loop circular economy.

March/April 2016

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CONFERENCE The conference theme is “The Sustainability Story”, with dedicated sessions on:  Sustainable smelting technology  Diversification of downstream  Sorting and recycling technologies  Scrap recovery and dross processing  Energy efficiency The conference will discuss the sustainability challenges faced when manufacturing and processing aluminium, as well as a look at the environmental benefits of end-use aluminium products. Spaces are limited, so register online today to hear representatives from companies such as:  The Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI)  Rio Tinto  Norsk Hydro  Gulf Extrusions  UC Rusal  Schüco Middle East (SME)  TAHA Inc  Elkem Carbon AS  TOMRA Sorting The first day of the conference (10th May) will include speakers from EGA, Gulf Extrusions, The Bureau for Middle

Modar Al Mekdad General Manager, Gulf Extrusions

Mohammed Al Jawi Emirates Global Aluminium, Manager, Environment

Annika Shelly, Sustainability Communications Specialist, (UNEP)

East Recycling, TAHA Inc, TOMRA Sorting and many more. While on the second day (11th May), along with speakers from Rio Tinto, UC Rusal, Norsk Hydro and Schüco Middle East (SME), Dr Fiona Solomon of the ASI will host a panel session to highlight the organisation’s objectives and demonstrate how member companies are working towards a sustainable aluminium chain.

To view the full conference programme, Aluminium International Today

3/21/16 12:36 PM





EXHIBITION The AluSolutions exhibition offers a content-rich environment and international networking opportunity where you can spend time with the primary influencers and decision-makers within the industry. Exhibitors will present technology and innovation in the following areas:  Reducing energy and greenhouse gases  Waste management  Biodiversity and land management  Resource efficiency and recycling  Scrap recovery  Aluminium’s end-use environmental benefits Current exhibitors include: Gulf Extrusions, Cast Aluminium Industries, ABB, Elkem and AlCircle to name a few.

Ammar Alul, General Manager, Schüco Middle East (SME)

André Schmoker Project Manager, DHZ

Melanie Williams, Consultant, Melanie Williams Consulting

Graham Bruce, Deputy CEO, Taha International

Erik Fossum, Head of Commercial (Senior Vice President) in Primary Metal, Hydro

Why Abu Dhabi? The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the world’s fourth largest aluminium producer, accounting for more than 50% of the Gulf’s aluminium production. The region is known for its high quality aluminium and the plants are modern, with environmental protection regarded to be amongst the most advanced in the world. The volume of aluminium production in the Gulf region is expected to increase to five million tonnes by the end of 2015,

which accounts for 17.5% of the total global output, compared with 3.7 million tonnes in 2012 or 11% of the total world production. While the primary aluminium sector across the Gulf is growing year on year, significant focus is also being paid to the downstream products and services sector. Abu Dhabi is an international business hub and visitors will be able to explore all the area has to offer, as well as taking time to visit the local industry.

Dr Fiona Solomon, Executive Director, Aluminium Stewardship Initiative

Florian Kongoli, Chairman, FLOGEN Technologies Inc

Salam Al Sharif, President, Bureau of Middle East Recycling (BMR)

Sandro Starita, Director, European Aluminium, EHS and Sustainability

Sebastian Ebers, Sales Engineer, TOMRA Sorting

Dr Stian Madshus, Marketing and Sales Director, Elkem Carbon AS

visit: www.alusolutions.com/conference Aluminium International Today

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March/April 2016

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Exhibitor Profiles: AluSolutions 2016 Gillespie & Power Booth: AB15 Gillespie & Powers, Inc. has over 75 years of experience in the design, supply and installation of high temperature furnace equipment for the non-ferrous melting and hazardous waste industries. We find ourselves in the unique position every day helping our customers find solutions to problems they have in their everyday processes. Our special expertise in the furnishing of melting and process equipment is the total quantitative approach to all phases of the design. We take a comprehensive look at our clients overall process and their end product(s); we listen and assess their needs, goals, concerns and expectations, prior to designing a single item. We work closely with our clients to design the equipment that will work for their long-term goals without compromising flexibility in their process. We can offer custom solutions found nowhere in the industry. We include knowledge derived from years of experience in the building and Magneco/Metrel, Inc. Booth: AA3 Magneco/Metrel, Inc. (MMI) is a worldwide refractory manufacturer with headquarters in Addison, Illinois, USA. MMI has developed a line of refractory monolithic products referred to as “Metpump” for Aluminium Furnace Applications. MMI’s cement free colloidal silica bonded monolithic refractory products offer superior performing product compared to traditional cement bonded refractory material and bricks. In fact, MMI’s aluminium contact products have been tested and Cast Aluminium Industries (CAI) Booth: AC7 CAI is a secondary aluminium smelting company that has served Dubal since 1999 & Emal ever since it was established. CAI is a one-stop shop for dross processing of the region’s primary smelters. CAI is ISO 9001, 14001 & OHSAS 18001 certified and holds the approvals from Dubai Municipality & Dubai Civil Defence and is a proud member of Emirates Environmental Group. CAI will have a new plant in KIZAD for the sole purpose to serve the UAE’s primary smelters in major and other GCC smelters in general. March/April 2016

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demonstrate excellent non-wetting characteristics, resulting in less rejected finished aluminium. Metpump Products can be used for Full Construction of the Furnace, Major Repairs of the Furnace, Small Vessel Linings and Specialty Shapes. The MMI solution requires less material to be used for furnace repairs exercising the endless lining practice, thereby reduces land fill costs, waste, plant environmental impact, and safety concerns. Metpump refractory products significantly prolong the lining life compared to conventional refractory.

Elkem Carbon Booth: AA8 Elkem Carbon is one of the leading suppliers of carbon cathode solutions to the primary aluminium industry. We are committed to provide our customers with products and services that can help them extend cell lifetime, use less energy, improve the working environment and increase productivity. ELSEAL® is Elkem Carbon’s global brand for its range of high quality cathode ramming paste products. With the development and introduction of the ELSEAL® Type G product, Elkem Carbon contributes to a greener primary aluminium production. There are no PAH emissions during use, and workers will not be exposed to these potentially harmful compounds. ELSEAL® Type G is an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional cathode ramming paste products that have coal tar pitch based binder systems. Some major advantages of ELSEAL® Type G:  Does not contain PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) nor other hazardous substances  Easy handling and pleasant working environment – no odour and no need to use special personal protective equipment  Improved shelf life  No hazardous waste Elkem Carbon is a supplier of graphitised cathode blocks. Our high density and consistent quality products provide the basis for longer pot life. The cathode blocks can be offered in various geometric shapes tailor-made to the customer’s process with the benefit of a more stable operation and reduced energy consumption. We look forward to seeing you at AluSolutions 2016, on stand AA8.

Hyster Booth: AC9 Hyster® is one of the leading global brands of materials handling equipment and offers a comprehensive range of nearly every type and size of industrial lift trucks up to 52 tonnes. When a materials handling application demands dependability and durability… the answer is Hyster among the toughest and most reliable lift trucks on earth. Hyster products combine innovative design, industrial-

strength components, state-of-the-art manufacturing and testing. In the aluminium industry some of the most challenging application environments are to be found due to the heat and high magnetic fields produced by the smelters. With its specialist industry knowledge and expertise and the services of its Special Projects Engineering Department (SPED), Hyster can customise a solution for specific aluminium and metal applications. We have, for instance, created four packages

maintenance of aluminium melting and holding furnaces and other process equipment. This has furnished our insight as to the modes of failure and allowed us to advance our product designs. It has also allowed us to develop and design unique patented supplemental process equipment and patented processes that help to increase production and decrease energy and maintenance costs. In the design of a furnace we carefully quantitate forces that will be generated by the heating of the furnace’s two distinctly different refractory systems, and provide for these forces with the addition of internal expansion and structural steel members placed in an systematic manner. We have also completed numerous water model studies and have a thorough understanding of molten metal circulation. This, coupled with our knowledge of refractory selection, burner placement, combustion systems and control sequences uniquely qualifies Gillespie & Powers, Inc. to furnish the best equipment in the industry.

Aluminium International Today

3/21/16 10:13 AM


Gulf Extrusions Booth: AA6 Gulf Extrusions is a leading aluminium extrusion company, member of the entrenched Al Ghurair Group and Metal Industries. The company is strategically located in Dubai alongside its main supplier Dubai Aluminium as well as its foremost gateway to the world The Jabal Ali Ports. Gulf Extrusions quality products can be seen in many of today’s progressive structures. The company was formed with the sole purpose to meet the increasing demands for aluminium extrusions in Talex Booth: AA6 Talex is a downstream aluminium extrusion company established to drive and support the development of the Emirate’s industrial sector. Our mission is to be the quality, service and value-added leader in a competitive market, by providing to our customers the most diverse choice of quality products and services that require to improve performance, efficiency and enhance their competitive position. Talex is committed to research and developmeny and reviewing its methods of operation to continually improve the quality of products and services offered.


domestic, regional and international markets. Gulf Extrusions six presses and highly skilled workforce are able to produce 60,000 metric tonnes per annum with a rated capacity of 24,000 tonnes for powder coated finish, 6,000 tonnes for anodised finish and can offer more than

18,000 profile designs. These extrusions cover numerous industries ranging from architectural to transportation, engineering to structural sections, components for household items, HVAC and customised products. During the progressive stages of Gulf Extrusions, from its inception to expansion, the company not only has acquired a majority share in the local market, it has also made its presence felt globally throughout the GCC countries, Indian sub-continent, South East Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe and Canada.

ABB Booth: AB11 ABB provides solutions that improve the efficiency, productivity and quality of our customers’ operations. As part of the Process Automation division, ABB Metallurgy’s speciality is the optimisation of processes within the metals industry by providing electromagnetic stirrers (EMS) and brakes for casters and furnaces, and even stabilisers for galvanising lines. Our mission is to offer the most effective and energy efficient range of tailor made stirring solutions for a broad spectrum of applications. In order to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, a comprehensive and flexible range of EMS products is a prerequisite, together with the on-going evaluation and development of our

offerings. For aluminium stirring, we are continually broadening our already wide selection of products. In doing so, we can guarantee even more benefits as part of our performance warranty. EMS for aluminium offers the following benefits:  Increased productivity  Lower energy consumption  Reduced dross formation  Higher alloy yield  Homogeneous aluminium bath temperature  Homogeneous chemical composition  Payback typically within one year  Energy efficient product range

AlCircle Booth: AB9 www.alcircle.com is an information and business portal for the global aluminum industry that covers the whole eco-system and value chain of aluminium. The portal lets you access news, event information, price update, directory data and business, service and HR leads along the five verticals of the aluminum industry…all on a single platform!

Engitec Technologies Booth: AB10 Engitec Group is a group of companies providing the complete engineering service and Original Equipment Manufacturing of the system for the recycling of non ferrous metal such as Aluminium, Lead, Zinc, Copper. Engitec Technologies designs and builds plants and equipment for the recovery and recycling of scrap, dross, and other wastes

from secondary non-ferrous metallurgy. The company specialises in the recovery of aluminium and salt from slag, as well as for the recovery of iron, zinc and other metallic elements from the steelworks EAF dust. Engitec organisation includes a Research and Development section with a dedicated Laboratory and with an area for pilot plants for the development of its technologies for the recovery of metals from scrap and residues.

of protection based on the magnetic field present on the site. Due to the high levels of dust and fine particulates that the lift trucks are usually exposed to in smelting applications, we also offer heavy-duty air filters. In short, our solutions can extend run time and enhance dependability in extreme operating environments where humidity, heat, carbon and aluminium dusts are common issues. The extensive range of Hyster products is distributed and supported through a global network of exclusive dealers,

carefully selected on the strength of their customer support capability and outstanding service ethic. Kanoo Machinery is the exclusive Hyster dealer serving the Middle East, providing local coverage through their sales and service locations. Visit us at AluSolutions Middle East 2016, on stand AC9, to discover our offering and find out how Hyster can reduce cost, improve productivity and enhance operations in the handling of aluminium in the toughest applications.

Aluminium International Today

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The majority of our 80 employees are based at ABB Metallurgy’s main headquarters in Västerås, Sweden.

March/April 2016

3/21/16 10:13 AM



Extrusion industry answers With the preparation for the ET ‘16 show in Chicago underway, Nadine Firth* spoke to Jeff Henderson** about the current aluminium extrusion market and what visitors can expect.

1. In your opinion, how is the current aluminium market affecting the extrusion industry? Extruders continue to do well in the current aluminium market. Since the trade orders on Chinese imports of aluminium extrusions to the U.S. took effect, year-over-year shipments continue to improve at a rate better than the overall U.S. aluminium market.

continues to fill with new opportunities. And, it is expected that extruders will continue to see a growth in automotive applications as North American automakers keep striving to reach the Federal Government’s mandated goal of a 54.5 mpg fleet fuel economy by 2025.

9. What do you think is the next important step for extruders to consider as we move into 2016? Continuing to prosecute and defend our China trade orders will remain at the top of our list. The next order of business for the AEC will be the development of an industry-wide aluminium extrusion Environmental Product Declaration. With Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 4 requiring all products to have an EPD, we aim to be well prepared for our industry and our customers.

2. What are the biggest challenges affecting the US extrusion industry at present and what do you see for the long and short-term? The largest challenges for extruders are U.S. economic conditions, Chinese circumvention of U.S. trade orders, and growing and then maintaining new aluminium extrusion applications. 3. Are there any specific areas that are a focus for R&D? For example extrusions for automotive or construction applications? Certainly automotive applications, as well as other transportation applications, will continue to be an area where U.S. extruders invest in R&D. There are several electronic applications, such as thermal management, LED lighting, etc. for which extruders are researching and developing more solutions. 4. Is the US continuing to export aluminium extrusions, or is the majority for domestic consumption? While U.S. exports of extrusions have continued, they still represent a small fraction of the industry’s overall output. 5. Are we already seeing a growth in demand for extrusions in more automotive applications as predicted? Yes, extruders across the country in that space report strong orders. The pipeline

applications. As the market has become more involved in the automotive industry, equipment and processes have been developed and deployed to address these needs. This is leading to a new generation of more energy-efficient and more productive processes and machinery. ET ’16 will be the world stage for the very latest in all of those categories.

6. Has there been an increase in remelting extrusions for reuse? I am not aware of any data on this. I couldn’t say one way or another. 7. In what other ways can extruders contribute towards a more sustainable aluminium industry? Extruders will always be out front on recycled content in the products they sell. Many are now taking second looks at internal operations to find new ways to reduce energy consumption, reduce water usage, and so on. 8. With ET 16 around the corner, what do you think will be the more commonly discussed topics? Since 2012 there have been a number of changes in equipment, process and

10. What does the future look like for aluminium extrusion technology? Extrusion technology will follow the pattern of other manufacturing industries. Lower energy and processing costs will be demanded from new equipment designs. Quality control measures, whether process driven or technology driven, will continue to improve as the industry supplies more complicated applications. Lastly, expect downstream operations to become more efficient, and where applicable, more integrated in the extrusion process. As new applications develop, extruders are being asked to take a fresh look at alloys, tolerances, and value-add processing like fabrication and finishing. The development of technology will support and lead us in a direction that satisfies those requests.  www.et16.org/www.aec.org

*Editor, Aluminium International Today **Director of Operations, Aluminum Extruders Council March/April 2016

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Aluminium International Today

3/16/16 2:07 PM

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ET ‘16 The International Aluminum Extrusion Technology Seminar (ET) is the premier seminar series for the worldwide aluminum extrusion industry. ET is truly global in its scope and appeal, attracting more than 1,200 industry professionals from more than 50 countries. The ET Seminar has a reputation of quality and commitment to excellence that is highly respected by those in the aluminum extrusion industry. Delegates from around the world gather to hear about the latest industry developments from the brightest minds in business and academia. At the core of the ET programme are the technical sessions, and technical papers must be of the highest caliber to be accepted for presentation. All

of the research is new or updated, which makes ET unique in the industry. The 11th International Aluminum Extrusion Technology Seminar & Exposition – ET '16 – is a comprehensive event that features a robust programme addressing every facet of the aluminium extrusion industry. The four-day event includes:  125+ Technical Seminars representing new and updated research from the brightest minds in the industry  General Sessions featuring topics and speakers of broad appeal  ET Expo featuring exhibits from worldwide extrusion industry suppliers  Networking opportunities to help broaden your industry connections

Stand 507 Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC P O Box 109111, Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Tel: +971 4 884 6666 Fax: +971 4 884 6646 Email: sales@ega.ae www.ega.ae

Description: Producing over 1.1 million tpa of primary aluminium billets for extrusion and forging, Emirates Global Aluminium (“EGA”) ranks as the world’s leading producer of extrusion billets manufactured using Airslip technology. All EGA billets are homogenized and 100% ultrasound-inspected before delivery.

Stand: 605P Almex USA Inc. 6925 Aragon Circle Buena Park, CA 90620 USA Contact: Helgar Bergmann Manager, Sales and Marketing Tel: +1-714-739-0303 info@almexusa.com

Description: Almex USA is the leading supplier of commercial and aerospace aluminum billet and slab casting technology and equipment. Products include Degassing Systems, DC Casting Machines, Billet and Ingot Casting Systems, and Automated Process Control.

Stand: 808 Land Instruments International Dronfield, S18 1DJ United Kingdom +44 (0) 1246 417691 land.enquiry@ametek.co.uk www.landinst.com

March/April 2016

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 ET Showcase highlighting the best innovations featuring extruded aluminium  In-conjunction workshops providing comprehensive education at ET ET Expo You’ll find scores of innovations for tomorrow (and today) at the ET Expo. Held in conjunction with the ET Seminar, ET Expo is the marketplace and information centre where providers of extrusionindustry products and services connect directly with decision-makers representing every aspect of the aluminium extrusion business. Below is a selection of exhibitors who will be present at the ET Expo. Find out more by visiting www.et16.org 

AMETEK Land - Americas Pittsburgh, PA, 15238 United States of America +1 (412) 826 4444 irsales@ametek.com www.ametek-land.com

Aluminium International Today

3/21/16 10:18 AM



Temperature management of containers By W. Hähnel*, K. Gillmeister**, A. Krüger***

The container is the centrepiece of the tool package of an extrusion plant. Its core functions are to maintain the bore as cylindrically stable as possible during extrusion and to achieve as constant a temperature distribution as possible in the axial or extrusion direction. These functions should not be confused with controlling the temperature of the aluminium extrusion billet. As is well known, the aluminium extrusion billet has a so-called ‘taper’: A temperature gradient of about 50°C over its length. However, unlike the extrusion billet, the bore of the container should exhibit a uniform temperature. The container temperature does not affect the exit temperature of the extrusion, which has to be controlled, so this aspect will not be considered in more detail in this article. Temperature affects the performance of a container and plays an important role in the forming process that takes place in the container. So which temperatures are key for the container? In this respect, the container can basically be regarded as a passive, inert component that is not used actively to control the temperature of the billet or the aluminium profile. Its particular key function is to maintain a

Standard Alternative











500 500 550 600

6000 12000 12000 800

1350 1250 1050 1000

Table 2. Resistance to softening of 1.2343 steel

stable cylindrical bore during the extrusion process. To achieve this, containers are usually constructed in two or three parts. The type of construction used depends on the specific extrusion pressure pertaining to the bore:  If the specific pressure is less than 600 MPa, a two-part design is used.  If the pressure is greater than 600 MPa, a three-part design is used.

USN, W-Nr. 1.234312 Monate im Einsatz Q10, W-Nr. 1.2399, 12 Monate im Einsatz





1220 stem side

Tensile strength in MPa

Q10, W-Nr. 1.2399, 12 Monate im Einsatz









1350-1500 1650-1800


Table 1. Materials and strength properties of the individual components of the container


Die side


Standard Alternative 1 Alternative 2





Strength 1000-1250 1100-1250 1250-1400 1250-1400 1250-1400



Intermediate liner Inner liner

Standard Alternative 1 Alternative 2

Tensile strength in inner liner bore

2000 Tensile strength in MPa


If one wishes to have a stable cylindrical bore, the grade of material used and the pre-set strength levels of the individual components or liners are essential. Extrusion pressures have increased in recent years and therefore the strength levels of the components used also need to be higher. In addition, the design needs to ensure that there is a high degree of rotational symmetry in order to generate as few stress peaks in the container as possible. These stress peaks are generally identified and optimised using finite element analysis. Let us now consider the temperature in the container: Containers cannot be operated when they are cold and therefore have to be preheated. One of the reasons for this is that it is only above a certain temperature that the hot-

Tensile strength on ID and OD of inner liner and mantle bore

1600 1500 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000

Innenbüchese ØD Innenbüchese ØD Mantelbohrung ØD

900 800

20 Die side

220 420


820 900 stem side

Fig. 1+2: Hardness variations in inner liners

*Dipl.-Ing. Werner Hähnel, Head of Sales Tool Steel **Klaus Gillmeister, Application Technology Manager Tool Steel ***Andreas Krüger, CAD/FEM and Technology Department Aluminium International Today

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March/April 2016

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Diagram 2. Typical design of a cooled container

Diagram 3. Temperature distribution in a container without cooling during production

Diagram 4. Temperature distribution in a container with cooling during productioN

working steels used achieve the ductility required to ensure crack-free operation of the container. Nowadays, resistance heating is installed in the mantle in order to ensure uniform preheating of the container. Resistance heating located on the outside is not recommended for uniform preheating because it usually causes overheating and thus softening of the mantle. The installed resistance heating provides a minimum temperature of 380°C at the start of extrusion. At this temperature, the 1.2343 hot working steel used for the mantle has optimal toughness properties for a crackfree operation. At the same time, the container has to be protected against reaching too high a temperature. Excessively high temperatures can lead to irreparable loss of strength. One should therefore avoid a temperature of 500°C or more in the container mantle for a sustained period. Table 2 shows the resistance to softening or loss of strength of 1.2343 steel. From the point of view of the mantle material, a maximum permitted preheat temperature of 450°C should be observed. As can be seen from Table 2, a temperature in excess of 500°C leads to softening of the material by annealing and under the extrusion pressure this can March/April 2016

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result in undesirable plastic deformation. If extrusion is carried out for a prolonged period with an excessive mantle temperature of, for example, 550°C, the tensile strength of the mantle can decline to almost 1000 MPa after 12,000 operating hours, or a production time of some 1.5 years. The required minimum strength of the container mantle is 1000 MPa. Thus, such exposure will doubtless mean that 90% of the container service life will already have been used up. However, if one ensures that there is appropriate temperature control in the container jacket to maintain a maximum average mantle temperature of 450°C, containers can achieve a service life of at least 10 and quite possibly even 15 years. Unlike the mantle, the inner and intermediate liners are replaceable wearing parts, which usually have to be replaced every year or when the condition or strength level makes it necessary. If the temperatures of the inner or intermediate liners remain permanently above the hot strength of the hot working steels used, it will be difficult to operate with a stable cylindrical bore for a prolonged period. The consequences here are also loss of strength and the associated plastic deformation in the bore of the inner liner. If the temperature is

Diagram 5. Volume flow in triple-path cooling spiral with a single air inlet (LE) Geschwindigkeit = Speed, Luftkühlung Geschwindigkeit = Speed of air-cooling

not uniformly distributed in the extrusion direction, this also has a negative effect on the bore dimension and on product quality. Fig. 1 shows the loss in strength over the length of the inner liner in the container. These data even allow conclusions to be drawn about the billet lengths that were mostly extruded. Fig. 2 shows the differences in strength between the bore (blue) and the outer surface (pink). The losses in hardness measured are the result of excessive temperature in this area. This high temperature is the product of the billet temperature and deformation heat generated during extrusion. If the liner continues to soften during the production period and reaches the critical range of 1000 MPa, this can result, for example, in blisters forming on the aluminium profile. Besides that, there is a risk of so-called burn marks in the inner liner bore. These burn marks result from air inclusions that lead to incipient melting of the material of the inner liner and can then lead to total failure of the inner liner in the form of an axial crack. How can the loss of strength be prevented or at least retarded? To solve this problem one can use aircooling on the outside surface of the Aluminium International Today

3/14/16 3:29 PM

inner liner (two-part design) or on the outer surface of the intermediate liner (three-part design). Partial air-cooling in the form of a spiral that allows air circulation to take place via radial inlet and outlet holes is fitted to the inner or intermediate liner as required. The three cooling zones shown in Diagram 2 can be switched on or off independently of each other and thereby achieve a more uniform temperature distribution. There is controversy among aluminium extruders as to the need for air-cooling. One can use hardness measurements and dimensional checks on the worn components to estimate the usefulness of air-cooling. The air used has to be dry, clean and at a certain pressure and must be provided accordingly. Compressors and sound absorbers may be necessary and are an additional burden. In addition, the construction of the aircooling system with its necessary temperature sensors leads to stress peaks and at the same time weakens the stability of the component. The following questions therefore have to be asked for each individual project and must then be evaluated and answered objectively: 1. Why cooling? a) for a more uniform temperature distribution in the container in an axial direction, b) to quickly adapt the container to a different billet temperature when there is a programme change, c) to protect the inner and/or intermediate liner against softening. 2. When does it not make any sense to use cooling? a) when the containers are less than 800 to 900mm long, b) when the billet temperatures are less than 420°C. FEM models that can simulate the theoretical temperature distribution in the container are now being used to support the decision in favour of or against the cooling of a component. By carrying out several calculations one can achieve a high level of conformity between theory (simulation) and practice (production) so that the meaningfulness of the cooling can be estimated using a calibrated FEM model. The following four diagrams based on model calculations show the container without cooling (upper row) and air cooled (lower row) for comparison. Air-cooling results in a temperature reduction of approx. 80 to 100°C. As can be seen from Table 2, temperature differences of ±50 °C can already be decisive for permanent softening of the materials. Moreover, the type of air-cooling used is decisive. Unfavourable flow conditions in the arrangement of the inlet openings to the cooling spiral mean one cannot expect a uniform cooling effect. In order to increase the effectiveness of the cooling it is necessary to undertake changes to the design of the container. These changes can be developed and optimised using finite element simulations, without at the same time ignoring the stress peaks that result. Conclusion The extrusion industry is not only subjected to constant competition from within the industry itself but also from other forming processes. The tooling has to deal with ever-greater extrusion speeds and extrusion pressures. In addition to the demands made on the tool and the die technology, temperature management of the tooling is becoming increasingly important. Finite element simulations including flow simulations can make an important contribution to optimising such temperature management. 

Contact www.kind-co.de

Aluminium International Today

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More than just steel.

KInD & Co., edelstahlwerk, Gmbh & Co. KG • Bielsteiner str. 124-130 • D-51674 Wiehl • tel. +49 (0) 22 62 / 84-0 • extrusion@kind-co.de • www.kind-co.de


Visit our booth 1126P at the e.t. Chicago March/April 2016

3/14/16 3:30 PM


Raising the bar in UK extrusion Having recently celebrated its 30th birthday, Aluminium Shapes has certainly seen some changes in the industry. Nadine Firth* met with Frank Power** for a tour of the Corby-based plant and a look at the extrusion process up close. What changes has Aluminium Shapes recently seen? Having survived difficult times four years ago, Managing Director Milburn Paterson was brought in to turn things around and did so through a combination of passion for the industry, economic prudence and a wholly supportive work force. We now stand proudly as an energised aluminium company in a town built on steel. This year we’ll produce more than 5,000,000 metres of extrusion ranging from 28g to 6.5kgs per metre. How is the company investing in growth? Firstly, the latest 3D, CAD and industryleading design software enables us to adapt to any extrusion challenge put in front of us. The factory in Corby is based on two small presses (one direct, one indirect) and December 2014 saw a significant investment (£300k) in new run out tables installed. Next generation CNC equipment is also being phased in to improve an already strong internal machining portfolio and announced only recently, significant investment is planned in October on new press cooling equipment. Do the two presses allow for specialised extrusions? Yes, we are at the smaller profile end of the market, already a niche market and this gives us almost a niche within a niche. We have done a lot of development work recently with automotive R&D companies and our size and flexibility means we can be both more responsive and more experimental. It also allows us to choose where our market is; we can be a second string supplier to customers who buy from more main line suppliers.

What other services does Aluminium Shapes offer? Machining? Finishing? If you can do it to aluminium we can offer it. What we can’t do in house we can outsource. In house we have up to 6000mm CNC and do volume long length machining, cutting, general fabrication, stockholding and assembly. We are a major supplier of painted and anodised sections through long term supply partners. Are there any Research and Development projects in place? Is innovation important? Innovation is crucial. However we know our place, we don’t have the resources to develop new alloys, dies or production techniques. We do however contribute by grooming the next generation of large potential users of extrusion by nurturing their idea when its in its infancy, and if they subsequently out grow us and move to a larger company, its all part of the cycle. How is the current aluminium market affecting Aluminium Shapes? Times are always challenging. There are interesting things happening in the US to prevent dumping in the Far East, and moves within the UK to stir the EU into some kind of similar action. We don’t want a repeat of what is happening with steel. However with our tiny market share our wide customer/market spread and overall portfolio we can react to changes good or bad better than most How do you view Aluminium Shape’s development over the short-tomid term in relation to the global aluminium industry? We want to go back to Aluminium Shapes core roots. Not so many years ago we were every extruder’s friend and their

competitor; it was a strange relationship but one that worked well. We made what the larger companies couldn’t or didn’t want to and they made for us what was too large for us. We have forged relationships with companies both within the UK and in Europe and this will help grow the market for all of us. We also believe that we have a product that will appeal more in the export market. We have a small export portfolio currently, going as far afield as Singapore and if we decide to exhibit internationally this would grow How do you ensure you are building a sustainable business? Every day is like a new day. We work tirelessly with our great friends at the Aluminium Federation (ALFED) to excite the next generation of potential aluminium designers from primary schools right through to universities, and encourage educators to visit the site and see the magic first hand. We might not be clever enough to design and develop end products ourselves, so we see it as our responsibility to share our passion and expertise with those who have. What does Aluminium Shapes have in store for 2016? 2016 is a huge year for Aluminium Shapes. I always fight shy of clichés such as “watch this space” but things are afoot that will be particularly newsworthy. We are looking to grow the business, invest more particularly in the machining side and reach out more to the aluminium community in Europe. We are also looking for the first time at some product ideas that may develop in some way as the year progresses, but the core aim of being the number one service extruder in Europe in our sector will never change. 

*Editor, Aluminium International Today **Director, Aluminium Shapes March/April 2016

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Aluminium International Today

3/15/16 3:42 PM

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Aluminium International Today March/April 2016  

Aluminium International Today March/April 2016