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2016 NEWS



EGA’S hot metal road The first delivery of hot, molten aluminium directly from EGA’s Al Taweelah operations in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (KIZAD) to Ducab Aluminium Company, a new downstream extrusion plant in the emerging aluminium hub in KIZAD, has been completed. The metal – which Ducab Aluminium Company will use to produce aluminium electrical cables – is transported along a dedicated Hot Metal Road.

The direct delivery is facilitated by a dedicated, Liquid Metal Transfer (LMT) facility, developed at Al Taweelah operations to transport liquid metal to downstream customers. The first of its kind in the UAE, the LMT comprises a transfer building with an overhead crane where the hot, molten metal received from Reduction at Al Taweelah operations is transferred to a preheated, road going crucible with a capacity of 14.5 tonnes.

Arconic launches Arconic Inc. has launched as a global leader in multi-materials innovation, precision engineering and advanced manufacturing, strongly positioned in attractive markets. “We launch Arconic as a strong independent company,” said Arconic Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld. “Our multi-year transformation while part of Alcoa Inc. substantially

improved our competitiveness and profitability. Today, we are very well positioned as a leader in attractive markets. Our culture combines driving innovation with a relentless focus on operational excellence and cost control; this positions Arconic to create significant value for our customers and profitable growth for our shareholders.”

Aluminium organisations sign MOU The International Aluminium Institute (IAI), the global association of aluminium producers, and the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), a multi-stakeholder organisation with the mission to foster responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium, signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in their respective efforts to support continuous improvement in the performance of the global

aluminium industry and the sustainable use and recycling of its products. The five-year MoU, signed by ASI Chief Executive Officer, Fiona Solomon, and IAI Secretary General, Ron Knapp, brings the two organisations together to share measurement, reporting and verification frameworks and selected industry data on greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy use, waste and risk management, among

other issues. The collaboration is expected to enhance efficiencies for both organisations and their respective members by supporting common approaches where relevant, and pooling collective experience and knowledge. To realise these aims, the ASI and IAI executive teams agree to meet periodically and to report annually to their respective Boards on the status of cooperation.

Lochaber sale agreed Rio Tinto has reached an agreement to sell its assets at Lochaber, Scotland to SIMEC for consideration totalling $410 million (£330 million). The sale purchase agreement comprises the sale of Rio Tinto’s 100 per cent shareholding in Alcan Aluminium UK Limited which includes the operating smelter, the hydroelectric facilities at Aluminium International Today

Kinlochleven and Lochaber as well as all associated land. Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said “This is a value-creating sale for Rio Tinto and represents another example of refining our portfolio to focus on our suite of tier one assets. “At the same time, our priority has been to ensure a long-term

sustainable future for Lochaber and economic benefit for the wider Fort William community. There was significant interest in the assets, but SIMEC is committed to continuing operations at the smelter and working with the community on further economic development.”

2016 Highlights It has certainly been an interesting year. We’ve seen major political shifts, said goodbye to music heroes, and watched in awe as our sportsmen and women achieved incredible things at the Rio Olympics. While the world got to grips with new challenges, the aluminium industry ploughed on with new technology innovations, investments, contracts and joint ventures. It has felt like a positive year, which was neatly wrapped up with everything aluminium all under one roof at the ALUMINIUM 2016 Düsseldorf event. The exhibition stands were busy with meetings and displays of ongoing and upcoming projects, which I look forward to following up in the magazine over the course of next year. A New Year always brings change (or at least the promise of it) and here at Aluminium International Today we have a few things up our sleeve to keep readers up-to-date with all the industry ‘goings on’. Every issue next year will include a dedicated supplement and we will also be publishing more digital issues, each with a particular industry focus. To make sure you receive your own printed copy of the magazine, a digital version to share with colleagues, the weekly newsletter, and the Annual Buyers’ Guide, subscribe today: We have some great subscription offers at the moment and you could get up to 20% off! I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

2016 Highlights

2 2016 NEWS

IN BRIEF Alufoil Trophy 2016 The aluminium foil sector’s annual premier awards competition, the Alufoil Trophy brings out the best in both multinational and specialist foil manufacturers and converters. View the winners here:

Talex casthouse operational The Talex casthouse, which started operating in February 2016, was built as a turnkey plant by Hertwich Engineering. After the (now completed) first expansion stage the annual output will be around 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of extrusion billets.

Chocolate comes in cans A unique collaboration between Ball and Belgian chocolate brand, Ovidias, sees the chocolatier bring its patented packaging concept to the commercial market. Ovidias is the only company to package its chocolates in beverage cans.

Aluminium Hive The Hive in Kew Gardens will bring 17,000 aluminium bars to London. Artist Wolfgang Buttress describes the amplified sound of bees communicating as “haunting” and he has built The Hive, a 17m-high swarm of aluminium among a wildflower meadow where visitors can hear a honeybee chorus beamed direct from a hive and see it transformed into a pulsating light display.

2016 Highlights

Hydro to build Karmøy technology pilot Hydro has made a formal build decision for the planned fullscale technology pilot at Karmøy, Norway, aiming to verify the world’s most climate and energy efficient production of primary aluminium. 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 percent per kilo aluminium produced compared to the world average, with the lowest CO2 footprint in the world. In addition, the implementation of technology spinoffs 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.

Aluminium in cars up 30%

A Ducker Worldwide study forecasts the aluminium content in cars to increase by up to 30% over the next 10 years.

This surge is mainly from rolled and extruded products, where Auto Body Sheet leads the growth with an expected increase of 110%

over the same period. The growth is largely attributed to aluminium’s role in lightweighting cars, thereby contributing to low emission mobility. The amount of aluminium used in cars is expected to see a significant increase by 2025, according to a study recently published by consulting and research firm Ducker Worldwide. The study, commissioned by European Aluminium, predicts that the aluminium content of cars produced in Europe could reach nearly 200 kg per vehicle by 2025, up from 150kg today.

Assan Alüminyum investment The largest flat-rolled aluminium producer of Turkey, Assan Alüminyum, a subsidiary of Kibar Holding, is planning to grow over the short and medium term through new investments. One of the major investment plans is the first modern and highwidth aluminium hot rolling facility in Turkey. Asked about shortterm investment plans of Assan Alüminyum and the strategic ideas behind it, together with the recent order placed for a new Achenbach OPTIMILL® foil rolling mill, Göksal Güngör, General Manager of

Assan Alüminyum, states that as step 1, they have decided to start the realisation of these strategic

expansion plans with the increasing of their casting and foil rolling capacities.

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This year has seen a lot of new faces in the industry and some familiar ones making a move...

Jean-Marc Germain, Constellium Took on the the role of Chief Executive Officer for Constellium in July 2016. Jean-Marc succeeds Pierre Vareille, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Jean-Marc Germain will be based in New York.

Oliver Hommel, GLAFRI President The Head of Product Area Foil BU Global Products Hydro Aluminium, was elected President of the Global Aluminium Foil Roller Initiative (GLAFRI). GLAFRI is the global association coordinating actions on sustainability in order to support foil market growth and promote innovative developments.

Hilde Merete Aasheim, IAI Chair The Executive Vice President of Hydro’s primary metal business, was appointed Chair of the International Aluminium Institute (IAI), at the 89th meeting of its Board of Directors in Shanghai. Aasheim takes over from Abdulla Kalban, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Global Aluminium.

Markku Teräsvasara, Outotec Outotec’s Board of Directors has appointed Markku Teräsvasara as Chief Executive Officer. His previous role was as President of Atlas Copco’s Mining and Rock Excavation Service Division. “Markku Teräsvasara has long experience in the equipment and service businesses within the mining industry,” says Outotec’s Chairman of the Board Mr. Matti Alahuhta.

Kjetil Ebbesberg, EA Chairman Kjetil Ebbesberg, Hydro, takes on the position of Chairman of European Aluminium until the next General Assembly, replacing Pierre Vareille. Mr Ebbesberg is Executive Vice President of the Rolled Products business area at Hydro. He has worked for Hydro since 1996.

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Jeff Henderson, AEC President The Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) has elected Jeff Henderson to be its next president. Henderson succeeds Rand Baldwin, who announced his retirement to AEC’s Board of Directors during the Management Conference last September. Baldwin has been the Council’s President since 2000 and has seen the Council through both challenging and exciting times.

Simon MacVicker, UK Metals Council Simon MacVicker, managing director of Bridgnorth Aluminium, the UK’s only aluminium coil manufacturer, was appointed Chair of the newly-formed UK Metals Council. This body, linked to Metals

Forum, comprises leading UK metals companies, and speaks out for the UK metals sector with government and BIS. One of its primary roles is to deliver the UK Metals Industry Strategy, which was launched last year.

2016 Highlights


US extrusions: Market overview Photo courtesy of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.

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 2016 Highlights

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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. Aluminium International Today

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

Photo courtesy of Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.

2016 Highlights


until truck inventories, which got out of whack late last year, are worked down. But they 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 2016 highlights

Photo courtesy of Alexandria Industries

renewed. He, however, is optimistic 2016 demand will be at least flat vs. the bubble 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.” � Aluminium International Today

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Bauxite mining in Paragominas, in the state of Pará. Source Abal

Brazil and the aluminum industry saga Despite the challenging economic and political environment, a potential consumer market and the industry’s recovery give new impetus to the Brazilian aluminium market. By Milton Rego* The metal used to forge the Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Games torch in 2016 has overcome intense fluctuations in the competitions’ host country. Important changes in the political environment and a persistent contraction of the economy have driven away some investors and made many others wait before they move ahead with their plans. The performance of the Brazilian aluminium industry was not immune to this scenario. In 2015, the domestic market for manufactured aluminium products declined 8.5% and closed the year with a total of 1.3 million tons. Nevertheless, the result was better than the 9.7% fall of the Brazilian manufacturing industry, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE, for its Portuguese acronym), driven by a particularly strong downturn in the automotive industry (see chart). The types of transformed aluminium products that most influenced the decline in total consumption were extruded and casting items, reflecting the weak performance in 2015 of their major consumer markets, such as civil construction and transport. On the other hand, in the packaging segment, whose

production fell less than in other sectors, the aluminium consumption remained almost steady, growing 0.5% last year. But as there is no evil that lasts forever, recent news brought some hope. The industry production returned to an upward trend in the last four consecutive months. Add to that the first positive result of the year, reported in August, for capital, semi-finished and all types of consumer goods. Data suggests that the Brazilian economy has reached a turning point and will, finally, show positive signs. Upstream In 2015, the production of bauxite and alumina increased. Last year, there was a record output of bauxite and alumina, with 37 million tons and 10.5 million tons, respectively. Exports of bauxite and alumina, responsible for maintaining a trade surplus in the sector, also hit a record. Throughout the year, 9.34 million tons of bauxite were exported versus 8.35 million tons in 2014, representing an 11% increase. In the case of alumina, the country exported an additional 286,000 tons in comparison with 2014, bringing the total to 8.47 million tons in 2015.

The leading destinations of the national bauxite in 2015 were the United States, Ireland, China, and Canada, while the main consumer markets of the domestic alumina in the same year were Canada, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Iceland, Argentina, the United States, Qatar, China, and Russia. In turn, the most extreme negative aspect of the sector was recorded in the production of primary aluminium, which fell 19.7%, totalling 772,200 tons in the year, thus returning to the levels of production reported in 1986 in Brazil. The decrease in volume last year is largely due to the temporary closure of the Consórcio de Alumínio do Maranhão (Alumar) plant, located in the State of Maranhão, with an annual installed capacity of 457,000 tons. As for other plants that shut down their activities, this extreme choice was a consequence of the sharp drop in the commodity price, aligned with the successive increases in production costs, especially those of the purchased electric power – which, for the average of the Brazilian industry, accounts for 62% of the total costs.

*Deputy President, Brazilian Aluminium Association 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


Sustainability and competitiveness Despite the difficult moment, aluminium has been gaining ground in several of its consumer markets. One of the factors that makes us believe that the decline in the consumption of aluminium over the past years was slower than that of its consumer markets is that the metal has been earning market share from its competing materials, as a result of the demand for more efficient, lighter and sustainable products. In the case of the transport sector, there is a positive outlook for an increase in the use of road equipment made of aluminium in the replacement of steel. ABAL is currently leading a project for the development of a Dry-Cargo Truck Body, which is 100% made of aluminium. The project is in the final phase of its performance test. The trucks that have been using this body already show significant results, including a 13% reduction in fuel consumption in comparison with the same truck using a steel body. Other promising markets are those that seek energy efficiency, such as the use of aluminium in wind turbines and wind power generators, as well as in frames and structures of photovoltaic panels, whose consumption is expected to substantially increase when the country develops a Aluminium International Today

more favourable and clear regulation to implement smart grids. In an increasingly globalised world, the local industry has been intensively working to promote the differentials of the products made in Brazil. One of these initiatives was the study led by the Brazilian government, with metrics and standards developed together with the environmental consultancy Carbon Trust and the National Association of Technical Standards (ABNT, for its Portuguese acronym), for a measuring system that will certify companies and products with lower carbon footprint and reduced water consumption in Brazil. Four industries in the sector are participating in this project, each with a product being assessed. They are the Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio, General Cable, Novelis, and ReciclaBR. If this project spreads out, it will open a much wider competitive advantage. The certification will be a business-to-business tool, meaning that the market will be able to select more sustainable suppliers. Still aligned with the competitiveness via a sustainability strategy, The Brazilian Aluminum Association (ABAL) recently joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), a global organisation whose main goal is to define standards for sustainability performance within the aluminium value chain. By joining the ASI, we bring our support, which represents the entire aluminium chain in Brazil, to an initiative that strengthens sustainable practices, from mining to the manufacturing of finished products, and that constantly pursues higher sustainability standards. With that, ABAL seeks to be part

of international discussions; share comparative advantages of Brazilian bauxite, alumina and aluminium, such as clean energy and low carbon footprint; influence the protocols and governance definitions; in addition to participating in an ASI committee that will discuss sustainable mining. What tomorrow will bring When this article is published, it is very likely that the results of the president Dilma Rousseff impeachment voting will be finished. Also this year, in October, we will have municipal elections. In other words, Brazil is yet to go through another period of political uncertainty that will certainly delay the recovery of the country’s economy. As a result of this environment, the forecast for the Brazilian aluminium market in 2016 is still conservative. We believe in a new fall in the consumption of manufactured aluminium products, but this time in the range of 6.0%. However, it is a significantly lower rate when compared to 2015. One more time, aluminium plates and sheets, which are expected to grow approximately 1%, will be the products that will drive the sector’s performance. Nevertheless, as said at the beginning, there is no evil that lasts forever. For that reason, we foresee that in 2017 there will be more trust in the market and an upturn in the national economy, which will reflect in the recovery of the Brazilian aluminium industry. � Contact

% versus the previous year 0% -3.8%




-9.7% -12.6%






-50% Brazil GDP

Packaging Industry Physical Production

Aluminium Domestic Consumption

Manufacturing Industry GDP

Construction Materials Sales

Automotive Production

Road Equipment Sales

2015 Indicators - Sources: IBGE, Abramat, Anfavea, Anfir, Abre and ABal

2016 Highlights


The Circular Economy: Boosting the potential of aluminium recycling? ´ By Magdalena Garczynska*

Why recycling aluminium matters Aluminium recycling is truly a genuine success story. The sector generates almost €8.6 billion in revenue per year and directly or indirectly employs about 30,000 people. Europe is the world‘s greatest recycler per capita (see chart below). The aluminium recycling industry is well spread across Europe. We count above 220 plants operating across this region with a total capacity of 12.3m tonnes. About half of all the aluminium produced in Europe comes from recycled aluminium. Bearing this in mind it is clear that recycling matters. As aluminium recycling production is on the rise, the goal for Europe must be to facilitate the business by setting up the right conditions for an efficient market, including access to raw materials. Not only do the market conditions need to be right, but the raw materials must also be accessible. The aluminium recycling production depends on the availability of aluminium scrap for re-melting and refining. The EU therefore needs to implement a series of activities to ensure that valuable aluminium scrap remains available for European recyclers and serves as a perpetual resource for Europe’s community. It also means that there is a need to generate more scrap, in particular by improving the collection process, as well as sorting and treatment of used aluminium. These preconditions can be achieved through adequate legislative measures, concrete deliveries and effective implementation. In this respect, the circular economy package offers a solid basis to address these challenges, if set in the right way. Aluminium recyclers associated under the umbrella of European Aluminium in the recycling division are provided with

tools that can help companies to better understand the market and support their growth. We are pleased to announce that European Aluminium has developed a classification manual for aluminium scrap types. The classification includes images and refers to some international, national and industry classifications. The project includes periodic statistics on the intake of scrap types which will allow members to define the types of aluminium scrap used in the recycling industry in Europe. The first results will be presented during the International Aluminium Recycling Congress to take place in Manchester on 7th and 8th February 2017 ( The circular economy potential The circular economy target is to challenge the European Union’s losses of secondary raw materials which are found in waste streams. The EU recognised that, despite considerable improvements in recent years,

some elements of waste management in Member States as well as the cooperation between them could further be improved. The proposal was tabled by the European Commission in December 2015 and now the European Parliament has commented on the proposal. Both the European Parliament and the EU Member States now have the responsibility to review the proposal and to make sure that it is fit for purpose. The European Commission included in the package a few legislative changes amending Waste Framework Directive, Landfill Directive, Packaging Directive, Directives on End-of-Life vehicles, Batteries and Accumulators, and Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment. Considering the important number of the amended legislative acts, the circular economy aims at having a broad impact on traditional business models, impacting lifestyles and habits. “The aluminium industry did not wait for the legislative proposal to operate


North America


Latin America

Middle East

Total 0







Europe is number 1 in recycling

*Recycling Director, European Aluminium 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


in a circular economy. Aluminium set an example by applying the concept of a circular economy long before it entered the political sphere. However, the future legislation will have a significant impact on the whole aluminium recycling value chain” says Gerd Götz, Director General of European Aluminium. The proposals include introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse, recycling and landfilling, provisions on extended producer responsibility, and streamlining definitions, reporting obligations and calculation methods to reach the targets. As part of the package, the European Commission also presented an action plan for the circular economy. The Action Plan encompasses non legislative measures from sourcing and production down to recycling and waste management. It also touches upon industry-led voluntary certification of treatment facilities for example. The effort to move towards a true resource efficient and circular economy is very positive. It is an invitation to think differently in the way we produce, consume and use. Aluminium, being a permanent material, is an essential contributor to achieving transition to the circular economy, as it can be endlessly recycled without losing its coherent properties or quality. The basic chemical elements which we call “inherent material properties,” do not degrade during use or recycling phases. Aluminium shares this important feature with other metals such as steel and glass. Furthermore, aluminium’s unique ability to be recycled an infinite number of times presents a definitive example of sustainability. Aluminium also has a good material stewardship. This involves a commitment to sourcing raw materials responsibly from environmental, economic and social perspectives, and promoting traceability. Good material stewardship also looks at the design, use and recycling phases. Aluminium is created in such a way that it can be easily collected and sorted for recycling after use, maximising its re-use for new applications. The circular economy proposal can impact the volumes of raw material for aluminium recycling provided an investment for innovation in collection and sorting will be provided. In the case of sorting such an action can push down in a long run the prices of sorting. If sorting becomes inexpensive, recyclers will be able to make better use of quantities such as zorba for example. Less expensive sorting technologies will eventually have an impact on aluminium scrap flow towards other markets. Aluminium International Today

Therefore as mentioned earlier, Europe is the world leader in aluminium recycling per capita, however the region still has the capacity to further recycle. In order for Europe to recycle more, the industry needs to maintain an international perspective to strategic planning. Not all international competitors operate under the same environmental, health and safety standards as we do in Europe. It is imperative that all those in the worldwide aluminium industry work to equivalent environmental, health and safety standards. The circular economy can support the industry in reaching this objective calling for free and fair trade. In practise, it means that aluminium scrap exported from the EU should only be included in the European statistics defining recycling targets if there is evidence that equivalent environmental, health and safety standards are applied when the material is recycled outside the region. The proposal includes many other important aspects. For example, clear and consistent recycling definitions proposed by the European Commission. The proposal to move the point of measurement of recycling to after the sorting phase – rather than at the collection phase – will ensure that Member States report on real recycling results. Apparently the European Parliament shows diverging views on it. The “final recycling process” as defined by the European Commission’s proposal rightly defines the final recycling step after mechanical sorting operations and it reflects the fact that re-melting and refining facilities are the last actors in the whole recycling chain in Europe. In the previous legislation, this aspect was overlooked and collection for recycling was mainly considered to be the recycling activity. European Aluminium is confident that the new split aluminium packaging recycling targets can be met, provided all recovery options can be made use of. Consequently, it is important that the new proposal refers to the additional recovery of metals from mixed-waste incinerator bottom ashes, although this should remain a ‘second-best’ option after separate collection and sorting at source. So far, Member States are discussing different calculation methods but aim to agree on a single and harmonised method of calculation and reporting of recycling targets. The divergent views makes it difficult to conclude what the final legislation will look like. Specific re-use and recycling targets are also needed for construction and demolition waste (CDW). So-called ‘backfilling’ belongs to the linear, not

circular, economy and should not be considered as recycling. The European Commission’s proposals could have been more ambitious in this regard. With less than 10% of CDW being recycled today, a specific re-use and recycling target is still missing and would help boost progress towards a circular economy. So far there is already a proposal tabled by the European Parliament to indeed have a separate target for construction and demolition waste which excludes backfilling operations. While it is disappointing to see that the European Commission has not fully banned landfilling, the association recognises that the proposal progressively to phase out the landfilling of recyclable waste to a maximum of 10% marks an important step forward. Member States must now be encouraged to invest in efficient collection and advanced sorting systems and separation technologies to ensure disposal of waste is minimised. Due to the ongoing discussions with policy makers, the European Parliament will vote on the compromised amendments by early 2017 instead of December 2016 as previously foreseen. Afterwards the package will move to the Council which will further determine the final text. Conclusion In order to consider a new, successful proposal, European Aluminium recommends to: � Maximise the collection of available aluminium and phase out landfilling of recyclable materials. � Innovate and invest in more efficient sorting and treatment technologies and melting processes. Improving the quality of sorting will increase the added value of the entire recycling chain. It requires improved collaboration across the value chain (collection, sorting, and secondary raw materials’ users), as well as increased efficiency of existing techniques for example automatic optical sorting or eddy current separator. � Measure real recycling and therefore set the calculation point for recycling targets for Member States after mechanical sorting operations and as input into the final recycling process. � Minimise leakage of aluminium scrap out of Europe and ensure a level playing field with global competitors. When recycled outside Europe, equivalent health, safety and environmental standards as in Europe should be applied. The aluminium recycling industry is actively contributing to the European Union’s objective to create a truly circular economy. We will continuously monitor the progress of the debate. � 2016 Highlights


Dedicated to downstream The Indian aluminium industry is finally aligning itself with the global trend of downstream integration. Dipanwita Gupta* explains

For the 4.129 million tpy-capacity primary aluminium industry which happens to be blessed with the proximity to one of the world’s richest bauxite reserves- the principle ore for aluminium extraction, downstream aluminium production has always remained a lesser priority. But now in the face of challenges arising from various fronts like power and logistics cost escalation, losing out to cheap exports in terms of market share, and not-soconducive government duty structure, it is realising the importance of spreading its wings farther. Major primary aluminium producers are showing interest in setting up industrial parks for aluminium-processing units either within their existing smelter complexes or close to their smelters. Vedanta Korba sheet rolling facility Vedanta Aluminium, which owns an aluminium smelter with a capacity of 1.75 million-tpy at Jharsuguda in Orissa and 600,000-tpy at Korba in Chhattisgarh, is investing heavily to build industrial parks for hosting small- and medium-sized units manufacturing aluminium extrusions and fabricated aluminium products. Last month, after about two years of partial closure and capacity cut, Vedanta Resources owned Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO) resumed its operations in all its facilities. With all the operations now running in full

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 (all figures in kilotonne). Source: Ministry of commerce Get the data

Fig 1. Domestic aluminium sale

swing, Balco aims to produce nearly six lakh tonnes of aluminium per annum in Chhattisgarh. Balco had shut down the sheet rolling shop (SRS) at the Korba facility in August last year, as it was running at a loss due to the slowdown in commodity prices and rising cheap imports from international markets. The company re-opened the facility after minor modernisation and revamp work. NALCO gets the ball rolling at Angul The State-owned National Aluminium Company (Nalco), too, is giving high priority to building industrial parks comprising SMEs that will add value to the primary metal it produces. Nalco has started the ball rolling at Angul in Odisha for the first phase of an industrial park. The company has roped in Orissa state agency Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IIDCO) as a majority partner. The partnership in the special purpose vehicle (SPV) is created to ensure that the project does not suffer from unnecessary procedural delays in securing clearances from the state government. The Navaratna PSU has also started discussions with the Defence Ministry’s Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd (MIDHANI) regarding the construction of an aluminium-lithium alloy plant. “Lithium-aluminium alloy is an extremely expensive alloy (sells for around INR 40

1,364,7 1,378,7 1,239,30 1,256,80 1,572,80

lakh a tonne),” said Nalco Chairman Tapan Kumar Chand. “More importantly, it is critical to our strategic sectors. Given the ‘Make in India’ push in the defence sector and the plans of an energised ISRO, we see a good domestic market for this product.” A feasibility report for the project and the high-end applications of the alloy in defence, aerospace and automobile sectors is being prepared by MIDHANI. “Once project boundaries are firmed up, both companies are expected to sign the JV - maybe within the next six months,” Chand said. He expects the facility, to be built in phases, to cost about INR 4,000 crore. Hindalco investment Hindalco Industries, an Aditya Birla Group company, is mulling a new wire-rod plant in Dahej, Gujarat at a total investment of INR250 crore. The facility, with a capacity of 2.50 lakh tonnes, will take the company’s total wirerod production to four lakh tonnes from the current 1.50 lakh tonnes. According to Satish Pai, Managing Director Hindalco, the plant will start production by March 2018. While addressing an industry congregation at a seminar on ‘Aluminium - The Strategic Metal’ in June, Pai said that the Indian aluminium industry should start making more investments in the

2,473 2,704,3 2,852,10 1,364,7

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16


(all figures in kilotonne). Source: Ministry of commerce Get the data

Fig 2. Total Estimated Consumption of Aluminium

*Senior Executive, Content, AlCircle 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


downstream sector, as an increase in the downstream production was critical for meeting India’s growing aluminium demand, which is presently met through mainly imports. The planned investment is part of Hindalco’s strategy to enhance the contribution of value-added products to 60% of overall sales from 40%. Other downstream projects Downstream manufacturing is picking up among other SMEs as well. India based auto components manufacturer Rane Group has announced plans to invest INR50-600 crore for expansion over the next three years. Rane Group of companies caters to a wide cross-section of end users from the transportation industry. The latest investment is aimed at expanding Rane Madras, Rane NSK (a joint venture with NSK, Japan) and on developing local supply chains. The capacity of Rane Madras will be doubled from the current 900,000 of steering gear per annum. As a result, the company’s aluminium die-casting business will also look up.

R&D Focus The Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Development and Design Centre (JNARDDC) is working towards development of aviation grade alloys for the Indian Air Force (maintenance command) as a part of the indigenisation process and the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government. JNARDDC director Anupam Agnihotri said, there are many parts in aircraft which are made from special aluminium alloys. India is largely dependent on imports for sourcing these metal products. If these parts could be made locally for replacing the wear and tear caused in the aircraft it would substantially reduce the maintenance cost of any aircraft by about 15%. JNARDDC will also be setting up an aluminium extrusion plant in the centre. Disruptive technology Vedanta too is betting big on technology innovations. Senior managers at the natural resources conglomerate have been meeting every quarter over the past one year to discuss new ideas on the next possible big innovation. The ‘innovation task force’, of which the executives are a part of has a clear directive

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to increase the number of patent filings and bring down the cost of production of aluminium by using disruptive technology. The company is already in the process of filing nearly 20 patents and working on many more. Vedanta leadership believes that innovation, and not just incremental improvement, will help them mitigate the volatility in global commodity prices. Consumption fuels growth India’s annual aluminium consumption is on a growth trajectory. The total estimated consumption of the lightmetal used in cars to construction has increased considerably over the last two financial years. This growth will further support the momentum in downstream manufacturing. According to Abhijit Pati, CEO, Aluminum Business of Vedanta, “There is a huge opportunity in India and the domestic metal demand is pegged to grow manifold. It will reach 3.5 million tons from the existing 2.8 million tons due to emerging applications in electrification, transportation, aerospace, packaging, building & construction etc.” �

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2016 Highlights


Spotlight on South Africa

With all eyes on the South African aluminium industry for the AFSA International Aluminium Conference and Exhibition in March, Nadine Bloxsome* 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: � To promote the use of aluminium and the growth of aluminium usage. � To promote the Southern African aluminium industry, both regionally and internationally. � 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 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today

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.


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 Q. The theme of the Conference is be introduced in 2016). Corporate South Africa, including the “Doubling aluminium demand”: Is this just referring to South Africa or aluminium sector, is working closely with Government on the implementation of is this a global vision? A. “Doubling Aluminium Demand” is a the laws that are coming into effect. I have global theme, but we believe it is within mentioned GHG, but all factory emissions Aluminium Intindustry. Taday For 2017_01_Layout 1 13.12.2016 08:20 Seite are 1 and energy efficiency reach of the local example, and effluents

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. �


Doublers · Separators · Slitters for Aluminium Foil and Converting Material

Success Story OPTIFOIL® Welcome on our booth 21.-23.3.2017 MESSE MÜNCHEN Hall A6 Booth 266 Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


Let the good times roll One year on from the formation of the Global Aluminium Foil Roller Initiative (GLAFRI), Nadine Bloxsome* spoke to the four GLAFRI Board members – Manfred Mertens, President; Simon Chan and Fabiano Urso, Vice-Presidents and Stefan Glimm, Director General – to see if the first 12 months have delivered the organisation’s initial objectives and what new opportunities and challenges still lie ahead.

How have the past 12 months gone for the organisation? MANFRED MERTENS: We believe the organisation has made a very promising start. The association already represents 49 members from 27 countries on four continents. Our ambition to speak for the sector with ‘one voice’ is widely recognised. Membership has significantly increased and we have an exciting programme planned for the year ahead, culminating in the fourth Global Aluminium Foil Roller Conference (GLAFCO) conference in Shanghai in September 2016. The World Economy did not deliver the expected recovery in the way forecasters predicted. Has this affected GLAFRI’s plans and the industry at large? MERTENS: While it is true the global economic recovery is both slow and patchy, the aluminium foil sector delivered solid growth of 2.4%** in 2015 and we anticipate this year will continue that growth at a rate of between 2-3%**. Certainly the slowdown of the Chinese economy, declining demand in North America and flat demand in Europe has impacted on aluminium foil production and demand. But, although growth rate slowed down in China, foil production and demand continued to increase, the same as several other emerging economies. Our expectation is that aluminium foil production worldwide will exceed five million tonnes** in 2016. **Data from CRU International

What did GLAFRI do to help stimulate

this growth and knowledge about foil? STEFAN GLIMM: The initiative was formed to help the sector speak with ‘one voice’ on issues such as sustainability and recycling – to develop a common position. We started the first year with priority given to activities in China, India, Europe and the USA. Since we last spoke we have been very active, with no less than six presentations at major events across the globe. In particular, GLAFRI representatives were invited to China, India, Thailand and the USA, as well as Dubai and Kenya, to deliver and explain our messages. There were also meaningful projects and membership campaigns in Bangladesh, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan and Korea. There was a truly worldwide reach for our ‘voice’. In addition, we issued six press releases and produced circulars on subjects as diverse as health, material substitution, innovation and recycling. Also there was an important feature in this magazine which, we were honoured to see, was republished in a special edition of Aluminium 2015 Highlights. Our sponsorship of the World BBQ championships also offered us a very positive platform.

support and efforts of Mr Dong Chunming, who is GLAFRI’s coordinator in China. He and l are aware of the importance of further enhancing home consumption in China through the promotion of foil’s many advantages here. The Initiative is in an ideal position to stimulate interest and a better understanding of the benefits foil can offer China.

SIMON CHAN: There were stand out activities in China, particularly a press conference in September to introduce GLAFRI, where we launched a social media campaign about aluminium foil containers. This followed our presentation of Alufoil Trophy winners during the ALUMINIUM China exhibition in July. Our work is greatly assisted by the active

What will GLAFRI’s focus be to encourage more growth in 2016? GLIMM: Different regional initiatives can focus on, and take advantage of, local market circumstances. We highlighted this during my presentation at the AFSA International Aluminium Conference and Exhibition, in Cape Town, South Africa this March. The subject, More (Foil) is Less

GLAFRI has increased its membership. Who has joined the group? GLIMM: We were pleased to welcome six new foil roller members over the last 12 months who all underlined the international nature of the Initiative. We recently gained Buildtrade from Bangladesh, Lotte from South Korea and Gränges based in Sweden and China. In the second half of 2015 we welcomed Garmco from Bahrain, Gujarat Foils in India and UACJ Foil based in Japan and Malaysia. In addition, we welcomed two new supplier members, Actega and Otto Junker who join our founding members in this category IAI, Achenbach, Kampf, Thiel & Hoche and Novelis PAE. Their perspective is very important to the work of GLAFRI.

*Editor, Aluminium International Today 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


aluminium foil sector. The theme is highly appropriate: “Driving Aluminium Growth through the Global Foil Initiative.” As well as an overview of global foil and closure markets we will explore regional differences and identify drivers for aluminium foil demand. Substitution challenges will be addressed and the initiatives to support market growth. GLIMM: The programme of promotion will also include funding to help establish regional Alufoil Trophy competitions and supporting specific projects with both medium-term and a continuous impact in their markets and looking at ways these might be adapted for other areas. Manfred Martens

Simon Chan

Stefan Glimm

Fabiano Urso

(Waste): Contributions of Aluminium Foil and Closures to Sustainable Lifestyles is, of course, a globally relevant topic and can be rolled out across other regions. GLAFRI will take every opportunity to deliver our message.

in my own market of Brazil is 0.4kg; in India the figure is less than 0.1 and in China 0.2. This compares with 1.2 in both USA and the EU 28 and 0.9 in Japan. GLAFRI is also looking into possible strategic partnerships, for example with exhibitions or other conference providers to generate regular opportunities to present on benefits of foil applications.

FABIANO URSO: Additionally, we will continue to be active in explaining the benefits of aluminium foil to reduce food waste as well as its contribution to sustainable lifestyles. Foil is a functional barrier, and longer shelf life is correlated to reducing food waste. It is the same for portion packaging, where semi-rigid containers, as well as thin foil, can play a major role. We also continue to promote the animation video ‘More is Less’, which is available in more than 10 languages and could increase this year. New membership means we have additional distribution channels to roll it out to a wider global audience. There are good and promising opportunities to grow the foil markets in emerging and fast developing economies and we will devote much of our attention to these areas. The per capita consumption Aluminium International Today

What activities are planned for GLAFRI during 2016? MERTENS: The big event in the calendar is the fourth Global Aluminium Foil Roller Conference, GLAFCO, which this year is being hosted by our colleagues in Shanghai, China from 7-9th September. This biennial event truly brings together the ‘world of aluminium foil’ and enables us to discuss all the current issues affecting the industry from a global perspective. URSO: As well as the presentation in South Africa already mentioned, we will be attending and presenting at ALUMINIUM BRAZIL from 7-9 June 2016 in Sao Paulo. This is another major opportunity to speak to the Latin American market, which is increasingly important to the

What are the challenges for achieving growth? MERTENS: The general slowing of the world economy is having an impact on every sector. But the aluminium foil industry is well placed to respond to upturns and downturns – it has been through them before. Plus, the markets we serve globally are always running at different levels, even from region to region. So, food might be buoyant while the automotive and building sectors depressed, or vice versa. We are currently seeing growth in most of the industries we serve, with different factors affecting different national markets. Balancing supply and demand is always a challenge, but again, through the improved communication networks and joint activities GLAFRI is building networks to alleviate these problems. Overall how are you feeling about GLAFRI’s first year of operation? MERTENS: I believe GLAFRI has exceeded all our expectations in its first year. Based on the success of the three previous global foil conferences, it seemed a logical step to set up GLAFRI, which is to my knowledge the first global aluminium downstream organisation. As more markets become global we need associations like ours to brand and represent their relevant sectors and products worldwide. This is due to cost efficiency reasons, as well as to meet the needs of multinational customers who expect a common approach to issues in different parts of the world. GLAFRI wants to continue to clearly show the benefits of aluminium foil with its barrier functions, food waste savings potential, recyclability and now resource efficiency, which will all help to improve the image of aluminium foil in packaging and other existing and potential uses. We would particularly like to encourage even more of our foil rolling colleagues to join and support our mutual interest in growing foil markets worldwide. � 2016 Highlights



Association Profile: ESTAL The European Association for Surface Treatment on Aluminium (ESTAL) works with its members to find solutions to technical, economic and ecological issues associated with surface treated aluminium. Following a successful congress in 2015, Nadine Bloxsome* spoke to Ivo Vermeeren about the challenges faced by this sector of the industry. “The next time you walk into a high building, take a few minutes to admire the façade of the building. Maybe you will notice that the building shows a metallic surface with a bronze shade or the building has a very elegant coloured façade. Most of the time, people do not know what the surface is made of. “In fact, the first façade with the bronze shade is probably made of anodised aluminium whereas the coloured façade is made of organic coated aluminium. Both processes are based on the treatment of the aluminium surface. Anodising and powder coating are the most widely used processes for aluminium surface treatment.” Q. What was the reasoning behind the formation of ESTAL? A. ESTAL was officially founded in 1989, first as an umbrella organisation over two independent organisations: Euras and Eurocoat. These two European associations were set up in 1971 (Euras) and 1985 (Eurocoat) in order to promote the interests of the aluminium anodisers and coaters. Due to the fact that an increasing number of aluminium surface treatment plants had both anodising and coating facilities, it was decided to merge Euras and Eurocoat into one single organisation to represent both industries. Today, ESTAL is a European federation of 13 national associations in 14 European countries, plus eight associate members, including coaters or anodisers located in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland and Slovakia where there is no national association. Q. What is the mission of ESTAL? A. The mission of ESTAL is basically to defend and promote the interests of its members at International level, and in particular at European level, to work in order to find solutions to technical, economical and ecological issues linked with aluminium surface treatment,

and finally to encourage the sharing of knowledge among members and the development of new technologies. In our opinion, surface treatment on aluminium is not restricted to anodising and powder coating, but also includes non-galvanic, chemical and electrolytic methods. ESTAL aims to become the platform for all treatments and applications on a European level, which means that the industry, the suppliers and the users of finished aluminium are invited to participate in our European Association. Q. How does ESTAL work with the aluminium industry? A. ESTAL anodisers and coaters work with aluminium. Up to now we have had regular, but not intensive contacts with the aluminium industry at European level through European Aluminium or at national level through the local aluminium producers’ associations. It is interesting to remark that in some national associations, the same staff deal with the national aluminium producers’ association and with the national aluminium finishers’ association. In 2015 the Members of ESTAL decided that it would be an added value for the aluminium finishers to have a closer cooperation with the aluminium producers. For this reason, ESTAL has joined European Aluminium as a member from January 2016. Q. In what way does ESTAL support its members? A. Regulatory measures, especially European legislation, are one of the major challenges for the aluminium finishers, because they often have a technical and financial impact on the finishing plants, who are in their majority small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). ESTAL defends the interests of the aluminium finishing industry in Brussels and has hired a Technical Coordinator whose main role is to liaise between ESTAL

and the European authorities. European legislation projects, which may harm our industry, and information that our association wants to forward to Brussels are discussed at the meetings of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC), attended by representatives of finishers, suppliers of surface treatment and various quality label organisations. Having a voice in Brussels is critical today for our industry given the many changes in European legislation (energy efficiency, IED). ESTAL is recognised at European level as the voice of the aluminium surface treatment sector and has been invited to discuss the issue of nanomaterials with the European Commission. Being present in Brussels makes it possible for ESTAL to pass on information and concerns from the finishing plants on to a higher level (European authorities, lobbying organisations) at the right time. In addition to the information given to the members through various channels (website, information bulletins, working group meetings etc), ESTAL organises a congress every two years, with the aim to treat the subject of aluminium surface treatment in a neutral, independent and comprehensive manner from various perspectives. The ESTAL Congress not only offers updates on ESTAL’s European lobbying activities and developments within the association, but also presentations on geographical markets and different industries using aluminium surface treatment. The last ESTAL Congress took place in September 2015 in Porto (Portugal). In this way, ESTAL provides fresh impetus for the aluminium finishing industry, with the aim of maintaining existing markets and opening up new opportunities and business areas for its members. It is not only the aluminium surface treatment industry that is confronted with regulatory, technical and economic challenges. Other market actors who are situated upstream and downstream in the supply chain are faced with similar

*Editor, Aluminium International Today 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


challenges, therefore it is important for ESTAL to join efforts with other organisations in order to work together for a better future for our members. For this reason, ESTAL keeps contacts with European and non-European organisations who work on similar issues or who can support ESTAL in its lobbying activities (e.g. FAECF, CEPE CETS, Nickel institute, IHAA, JAPA etc.). Establishing a relationship with the market players is not only beneficial for ESTAL as an association, but is also beneficial for the surface treatment plants at local level. Q. What are the biggest challenges facing the industry? A. In general, modern finishes are environmentally friendly. However, modern European legislation tends to banish dangerous metals or substances from production. The requirements for an environmentally friendly production of aluminium surface treatment are constantly more demanding. Modern surface treatment plants place a larger accent on a production process that, first, does not generate any waste and, secondly, endeavours to recycle all the

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energy produced in the factory. The ability to treat the aluminium surface with always shorter delivery times and to produce the required colour shades in a few hours are some of the important requirements for anodisers and coaters, and critical success factors for a modern surface finisher. Treating the surface of aluminium is a challenge. Our industry looks for new applications and new markets. Driving this search are the demands for cost effectiveness in the production process and the search for specialities to satisfy the design and fashion trends of architects. One of the critical success factors is to make aluminium more attractive to the final customers. This will ensure aluminium usage increases and, as a result, more applications for the aluminium surface treatment.

projects together with various industry players to develop new coatings for various applications. On the other side, the suppliers of the aluminium surface treatment constantly work on product development in order to make the aluminium surface treatment industry more sustainable. This was clearly illustrated by the different presentations given at the ESTAL Congress in Porto on the research currently being done in the field of aluminium surface treatment.

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Q. What does 2016 have in store for ESTAL? A. The year 2016 will mark a new development for our association as ESTAL is now part of European Aluminium. We are thrilled about the new opportunities that this membership will bring to our members. Together, we can promote the unique strength of aluminium for sustainability and recyclability of buildings and in this way promote aluminium and aluminium surface treatment. This new development brings nothing but benefits to both organisations and has a direct positive influence on the added value for the ESTAL members. �

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Q. Do you see continued research and development in the industry? A. There is definitely continued research and development in the industry. On one side, research institutes such as VUB, the Free University in Brussels, TUD, the Technical Institute of the Delft University (Netherlands) or the University of Aveiro in Portugal currently work on ambitious

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New President tours the world of Sapa The first few days in any new job are always a bit of a blur, but Sapa’s new President, Egil Hogna, took it all in his stride and began with a 100-day tour of the company. Here, he took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to Nadine Bloxsome* about his future plans.

1. It has been a busy introduction to the role, have you enjoyed your tour around the world of Sapa? During the last weeks I’ve toured Europe, Asia and North America. Many places I’ve had townhall meetings and I’ve been impressed with our employees’ level of engagement showing both a great enthusiasm for meeting our customers’ needs for innovative aluminium solutions and at the same time striving to constantly improve our operations.

and vegetable farmers in China. Likewise, one of Sapa’s achievements is the development, production and marketing of unique aluminium solutions, which fetch a premium amongst the world’s most quality conscious customers today.

2. Were there any areas you were specifically interested in exploring? While I’ve still to see many interesting sites, it was important for me to see early on a representative selection of Sapa’s sites. I‘ve now been to all of Sapa’s business areas representing both general extrusion, precision tubing and building systems, in both mature and emerging markets. 3. How does the aluminium industry differ from your previous roles? While I have worked two years in the aluminium industry before, my main experience is from the fertilizer industry. I also worked with downstream in the fertilizer industry, but a key difference is that the end customers for fertilizers are the worlds’ farmers. In order to be successful in the fertilizer industry, it’s a lot about understanding the needs of the world’s farmers and where global agriculture is heading. 4. Are there any similarities that you can apply? Both aluminium and fertilizers are, as a starting point, commodities. However, if one truly understands the needs of the customers, it’s possible to identify high value niches in every market. One example in my former job was that the export market for our largest plant in a high cost country like Norway was the fruit

Egil Hogna, Sapa President

5. What excites you most about this role in the aluminium industry? Currently, the global aluminium industry faces challenges from overcapacity in China and many of the industry players struggle with low profitability. Such situations are challenging for everyone, but they also contain opportunities for growth through consolidation and preparing for the upturn. I like the uphill battles because it’s only then you move upwards! 6. Sapa is well positioned as an innovator in the industry. Is this

something you will be continuing efforts in? Definitely! The only way a global company like Sapa can compete with the mostly commodity-focused competition is by developing and producing better solutions and products than the others. Truly understanding future trends and customer needs and then linking those to R&D is key to our long-term profitability. That is why in Sapa we invest heavily in R&D in order to put our knowledge to use. We have more than 1,000 engineers at our R&D centres including specialists in materials technology, technical physics and chemistry. We conduct research, down to the level of the atom, resulting in new alloys and products that are competitive in all markets. We work to spread knowledge and awareness regarding the properties of aluminium and its uses, including seminars for customers and partners. 7. In your opinion, what do you think are the main challenges that the aluminium industry and Sapa in particular are facing? The aluminium industry needs to get to grips with the supply-demand balance of the industry. While that partly will mean that unsustainable plants may have to close, it also means working on the demand side by continuing to show the world the benefits of aluminium relative to traditional materials like steel and copper. The potential for substituting lower performing materials is still great, for example in automotive. 8. One of the key messages you have expressed while touring Sapa is that safety is paramount. How will you work with employees to maintain high safety standards? While Sapa has made great improvements in recent years and currently is operating at a Total Recordable Injury rate of less

*Editor, Aluminium International Today 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


than 3.5 per million hours worked, I will never be satisfied as long as accidents occur. At Sapa we have made an active choice to be safe, which implies that we will continue to work for a zero accident future. Such an ambition requires all of us in Sapa to work together and to always think about safety before taking action or making decisions. 9. Are there any other areas that you think require a focus?

An obvious improvement both for Sapa and the industry is to improve the profitability in order to make sure we are able to continue to invest in both maintenance and future growth. That will require both a focus on better covering the needs of our customers to make our solutions even more attractive, and a focus on minimising costs. Only costs that truly help us delivering a better solution to our customers are costs we like.

10. What do you think the future holds for Sapa? As the only truly global aluminium solutions and extrusions company, I believe Sapa has a unique position to be the shaper of the industry. Sapa is a leader today and should be able to continue to lead in innovation, safety standards and quality going forward. It will require hard work from myself and my 24,000 Sapa colleagues, but we are determined to deliver. �

2017 DIARY February/March 07 - 08 14th International Aluminium Recycling Congress* Manchester, UK The congress will focus on market trends and technology applications in the field of aluminium recycling and circular economy.

26 - 02 TMS* San Diego, California, USA The meeting that the global minerals, metals, and materials community calls home.

April 25 - 27 7th International Conference on Electrodes for Primary Aluminium Smelters* Reykjavík, Iceland As before, the conference topic will include both anodes and cathodes.

May 15-17 Aluminium Middle East*

July 19-21 Aluminium China*

Dubai, United Arab Emirates The event will highlight the Middle East’s future role as the world’s powerhouse in aluminium production.

Shanghai, China Asia’s professional aluminium industry platform, annually held in Shanghai.

June 20 - 24 Aluminum Two Thousand-ICEB* Verona, Italy Highly qualified “Aluspecialist” from companies, universities and associations come from all over the world to present to a specialised and international audience the most innovative technologies and applications in the aluminium field.

METEF* 21 - 24 Verona, Italy Expo of customised technology for the aluminium and innovative metals industry.

September 07 - 09 Aluminium India* Bombay, India Reed SI Exhibitions Pvt. Ltd. is organising the next edition of ALUMINIUM INDIA, which will cater to the entire aluminium industry.

October 05 - 07 Aluexpo* Istanbul, Turkey Hannover Messe Ankiros Fuarcılılk A.S brings together suppliers producers and buyers of the aluminium sector under the same roof.

*Pick up a free copy of Aluminium International Today at this event

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2016 Highlights


Al Taweelah Alumina and Straddler Crane

Upstream investments With many of the world’s aluminium producers no longer owning bauxite and alumina resources due to consolidation activities, the export market for resource owners has grown exponentially over the years – as evidenced by recent increased prices for the commodities. In a quest to mitigate the associated risks by securing its own raw materials, Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) has diversified its asset base through upstream investments. A two-pronged approach has been taken: (i) bauxite mining in the Republic of Guinea (RoG); and (ii) alumina refining in the UAE and RoG. Good progress has already been made. Bauxite mining Guinea Alumina Corporation S.A. (GAC), a wholly owned EGA subsidiary, is mandated to develop a two-phased project in RoG. In Phase I, GAC will develop a 12 Mtpa bauxite export mine; upgrade an existing rail network; and construct a new, multiuser Kamsar Container Terminal (KCT) at Port Kamsar, capable of accommodating Cape-size vessels (10,000 Deadweight tonnage) – the latter designed to de-risk logistics and the supply chain significantly. Mechanical completion of the KCT commercial quay was achieved in April 2016. A Social and Environmental Impact Analysis (SEIA), prepared to International Finance Corporation and African Development Bank standards, was approved by the government of RoG in January 2016. An FEL3 Banking Feasibility Study for Phase I was completed and submitted in June 2016. Phase I was officially announced the same month. The project is divided into eight Engineering, Procurement and 2016 Highlights

Construction/Lump Sum Turnkey plus several equipment supply packages. The procurement process is at an advance stage, with normalised bids available from multiple vendors per package. The conventional, open pit bauxite mine is due to begin operations by 2018, with all production destined for sale to third parties. When operating at full capacity, Phase I will process approximately 5 million tonnes per annum of Guinean bauxite into alumina. The bauxite will be shipped from Port Kamsar to the EMAL berth in Khalifa Port and the residue will be filtered, transported and dry-stored in an area located 35km inland of the refinery. EGA’s decision to invest in RoG is attributable to a major extent by the country’s wealth of mineral resources. RoG is home to over 7 billion tonnes of bauxite reserves – equating to 27% of the world total. Moreover, Guinean bauxite is among the best quality in the world, particularly in terms of high alumina grade and low silica levels, making it highly exportable. The GAC project is centred on a high quality, export grade bauxite deposit in excess of 1.3 billion tonnes in the Boké region of north-western Guinea, right at the heart of the bauxite reserves. Importantly, the GAC project is transformational for Guinea. The SEIA mentioned above reflects the significant benefits to the RoG community through the development of local skills, job creation

and corporate social investment activities in the country. In the last two years, GAC has funded the training of over 300 young Guineans in the fields of masonry, carpentry, electricity and mechanics. The business has also constructed nine schools and six health posts; drilled more than 40 wells; and delivered health awareness programmes on HIV/AIDS, malaria and Ebola to over 175 local community members. The development of the commercial quay at Port Kamsar will also unlock other regional opportunities for bauxite and agricultural exports, as well as material imports. Alumina refining EGA also wholly-owns Al Taweelah Alumina, which is mandated to develop, the UAE’s first refinery. The project, adjacent to Al Taweelah Operations and Khalifa Port, is being designed and built in two phases, using the highest local and global standards. The refinery process design for Al Taweelah Alumina is an adaptation of the standard Bayer Technology, as employed in most modern alumina refineries. Raw materials other than bauxite will be sourced either domestically or abroad, including caustic soda in liquid form, dry lime, chemical reagents and acid for cleaning purposes. Phase I, currently under construction, will have a nameplate capacity of 2 Mtpa, which will meet 75% of the annual alumina requirements at Al Taweelah Operations. Aluminium International Today

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The project scope includes facilities for bauxite unloading, storage, crushing and grinding, digestion, clarification, mud washing and filtration, heat interchange, evaporation, precipitation, hydrate classification, seed and product filtration, calcination, and alumina handling. Offices, control room, switch-rooms, laboratory, change house and a canteen will service the refinery, along with associated utilities including an electrical power distribution, distributed control system, sea water, process and potable water distribution. Steam and power, seawater, potable water, process water, fire water and gas will be provided by upgraded facilities at Al Taweelah Operations. Limited Notice to Proceed with Phase I was issued on 1 October 2014, with Full Notice to Proceed following on 4 May 2015, after approval of an SEIA by the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency in early-2015. EGA has appointed top leading technology suppliers who will work in collaboration with skilled local construction and service companies to construct the refinery. Bechtel-Petrofac Joint Venture (BPJV) is the appointed EPCM contractor, Rio

Tinto Alcan Limited (RTAIL) is the Refinery Technology Provider, including Start-up & Operations Assistance, and Hatch Pty Ltd & Outotec Pty Ltd Joint Venture (HOT) is the Digestion Design Technology Provider. Good progress has been made already, with 23.4% of the overall development and 60% of engineering work completed by end-April 2016. The current execution plan is targeting first alumina production in the first half of 2018. Al Taweelah Alumina Phase I will consume an estimated 4.9 Mtpa of bauxite. For this purpose, EGA has signed a contract with Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) for the supply of 5 Mtpa bauxite (to be shipped from Port Kamsar, RoG, to the Al Taweelah Operations Berth at Khalifa Port, using Cape-size vessels). Al Taweelah Alumina aims to be the reference refinery worldwide by using the best available technologies and best in class practices for bauxite residue management. The bauxite residue 2016 Highlights

Kamsar Quay

produced by Phase I (approximately 2.4 Mtpa) will be filtered, then transported by truck from the Al Taweelah Refinery to a dry-store area located 35km inland of the refinery complex. To go beyond application of existing best practices and with support of array of stakeholders, EGA will embark on a comprehensive programme of work on bauxite residue research and development and explore opportunities to reuse bauxite residue in commercial and industrial applications. In keeping with EGA’s commitment to sustainability practices, Al Taweelah Alumina has embraced best practice alumina refining technology and environmental design to minimise energy consumption, emissions, noise levels and waste footprint. The construction, commissioning and operation of the refinery will adhere to the highest environmental and safety stansdards, and will be fully aligned to the specific requirements of operating in the UAE. Synergies within EGA’s existing facilities will further support the economic and environmental profile of the refinery. Importantly, Al Taweelah Alumina will contribute substantially to the UAE’s economic diversification strategy by accelerating the development of the aluminium cluster in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (where Al Taweelah Operations is the anchor tenant); and increasing the socio-economic impact of industry through job creation. It is envisaged that Phase I will add US$ 270 million to the UAE’s annual GDP and create several hundred jobs for UAE Nationals, with an Emiratization target of 18% by 2017. With a total project budget of US$ 3.0 billion, committed value to date stands at approximately US$2.0 billion with about US$1.0 billion award, purchase and commitment to be completed. More than 60% of the investment will be spent within the UAE.

EGA plans to double the capacity of Al Taweelah Alumina in Phase II. This will cater for more than 80% of the alumina requirements of EGA’s midstream operations. The land use of the site has been designed to allow for the construction of three equal phases. Then there’s Phase II of the GAC project in RoG, which will entail the development of a 2 Mtpa alumina refinery. EGA’s current plans are for first alumina production in the second half of 2022. � Contact

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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

2016 Highlights



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. 2016 Highlights

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.

Aluminium International Today


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 2016 Highlights


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 2016 Highlights

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


EnPot can be retro-fitted to 90% of the world’s aluminium smelters. While all smelters would be able to reduce energy consumption when fitted with EnPot technology (go down in Al production), some smelters would require additional infrastructure upgrades before they could increase energy consumption (go up in Al production).

Opening the window of opportunity Can breaking the constraints of the current cell designs and opening up the operating energy-use window, create new opportunities for aluminium smelters? By Dr. Linda Wright*  “The current problem with aluminium smelting” says Dr. Mark Dorreen, Director of the Light Metals Research Centre at The University of Auckland, in New Zealand, “is that we have been completely accepting of the fact that the existing primary aluminium production process doesn’t allow the energy input of a smelter to be varied by much more than plus or minus five percent. “Not only does this create a number of significant problems for the aluminium industry”, he says, “but it also makes us oblivious to the opportunities that exist for smelters when the energy-use window is opened.” Dr. Dorreen’s work on the EnPot shell heat exchanger technology for New Zealand company Energia Potior Ltd has led him to the conclusion that being able to open up the energy-use window, to plus or minus 30%, presents new opportunities that haven’t existed or even been contemplated before now. “The maximum-production straightjacket we have been in for the last 125 years effectively means that aluminium smelters are huge dead-end users of power. That is, an enormous

quantity of power goes into a smelter at a constant rate, and aluminium comes out, with almost no tolerance for variation. “We have found that modulating energy use up and down fundamentally changes the way smelters consume energy. Not only is this a cheaper way to make aluminium, but it can also free up power for other users.” Dr. Dorreen says that this presents new opportunities for smelter operators. “Smelters are able to turn up production at times of oversupply in power generation when prices are very low, and then turn down production when demand on the grid is high. “Smelters with their own dedicated hydro or geothermal electricity generation may even contemplate entering the energy supply market and sell power into the grid at times of peak pricing. There is also opportunity for smelters to supply electricity to subsidiary industries when the smelter is modulating down,” he says. Accommodating intermittency in a renewables grid Dr. Dorreen says that as nations seek to generate a higher percentage of their

electricity from renewable sources, it will become increasingly more difficult for smelters to live with the resulting intermittency of power supply. “Being able to modulate energy use will mean that smelters are no longer just dead-end users of electricity and fundamentally changes how smelters will be able to negotiate their power contracts in the future. It allows for unprecedented public-private partnerships and cooperation between power suppliers and smelters. As an example of what is possible, Dr. Dorreen points to what TRIMET Aluminium SE are seeking to achieve in Germany with the use of EnPot heat exchanger technology in their smelters. The EnPot system was installed in a partitioned section of TRIMET Aluminium SE’s smelter in Essen, Germany in June 2014. Dr. Martin Iffert, CEO of TRIMET Aluminium SE, believes that the EnPot technology could be used like a virtual battery to buffer demand against supply in Germany, as the country seeks to increase its use of renewable power generation under the Energiewende programme.

*PhD, BSc (Hons) 1st Class, Director, OneWorld Renewable Energy Consultants Ltd. Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


CURRENT MODEL Aluminium smelters are dead-end users, requiring large amounts of electricity continuously. GRID


GRID-INTEGRATED MODEL Aluminium smelters can modulate +/- 30%, which can free up power for the grid at times of low generation or peak demand. POWER-SHARING MODEL Aluminium smelters can modulate +/-30%, which can free up power for secondary batch-processing smelters or other complimentary industries, if energy use is synchronised.

Modulation of energy consumption presents new opportunities for aluminium smelters. GRID




“TRIMET’s trials of the EnPot technology indicate that by being able to dynamically increase or decrease our energy use by 25%, TRIMET could in fact become the energy bridge buffering supply and demand in Germany. “This would effectively enable TRIMET to become a significant part of Germany’s energy storage capacity,” Dr. Iffert says. “To further investigate this potential, one full potline of 120 cells is planned to be equipped with EnPot technology.” Geoff Matthews, Vice President of Energia Potior Ltd says a medium sized aluminium smelter could free up 150 MW when modulating, which is enough electricity to power over 230,000 western households during peak demand or at times of low generation. “The capital cost of constructing this amount of new power generation (150MW) from renewable energy would be closer to US$1 billion, depending on the technology used,” Geoff Matthews says. “This makes the EnPot technology a very attractive proposition for any country facing the considerable costs associated with increasing renewable power generation.” Geoff Matthews says that smelters that are able to modulate energy use and integrate with the grid, also have the opportunity to enter into new contractual arrangements for electricity that offer substantial economic benefits for the smelter. “The most obvious example is for a smelter to move to a demand-and-call electricity supply arrangement where it would take the maximum power it could from its supplier at the lowest possible price. Then at times of low generation the electricity supplier would call-back the power from the smelter and pay a significant premium to do so.” Geoff Matthews says this would be a 2016 Highlights


win-win situation for both the smelter and the power supplier, as well as resulting in a more stable and resilient grid. “The supplier avoids the significant capital cost of developing new back-up generation by being able to call back power at times of low generation, and is able to offset the cost of the premium with peak pricing to the consumer.” “The smelter on the other hand, may negotiate significantly reduced rates for the demand-and-call supply, as well as being compensated for lost production when called upon to free up power.” Matthews says this sort of arrangement was simply not possible before now. The ability to increase production above normal capacity at the turn of a dial will enable smelters to take advantage of significantly lower, or even negative pricing in the grid at times of over-supply. This will be particularly appealing as new sources of solar and wind generation continue to come online. In addition to real-time short duration modulation, EnPot heat exchangers also allow for permanent or semi-permanent variations in energy consumption. For example, a smelter could go down for several months at a time to accommodate grid shortages from drought conditions or peak demand periods caused by sub zero temperatures and reduced daylight hours. Energia Potior has been asked to quantify how EnPot could be used to help mitigate an unstable grid situation where a smelter is having power outages several times a week during peak demand times. Geoff Matthews says EnPot would allow the smelter to turn down electricity consumption by 30% during peak demand times for five hours a day, thus helping to avoid frequent power outages. The additional bonus being that it would enable the smelter to increase energy use and production during the 10 hours of low demand each day.

“This would allow the smelter to increase annual production and reduce the average unit cost at the same time, which is a significantly better outcome than shutting down a potline or having to deal with continued outages on a weekly basis. “The return on investment in such circumstances can be measured in terms of months rather than years.” Matthews says he has no doubt that EnPot technology will enable new dialogue to occur between public and private sectors, and that aluminium smelter owners and operators will build new relationships with electricity generators and transmission utilities. “What TRIMET are seeking to achieve with power modulation is to future-proof their business so they can operate in a renewables grid, and become part of the solution to the problem of intermittency to the benefit of all energy consumers in Germany. “It enables a very different dialogue to occur between power suppliers and smelters than what was possible in the past.” he says. Dr. Mark Dorreen also points out that being able to increase or decrease production for longer periods means smelters are better able to match supply and demand of aluminium production. “Currently the entire aluminium smelting industry is geared towards maximum production, no matter the market conditions. When there is an oversupply, this leads to stockpiling, which keeps prices depressed long after the oversupply has ended. “To wind back production currently, it would mean shutting down sections of potlines or even an entire potline, which is time consuming and costly. EnPot allows production to be substantially increased or decreased with the turn of a dial to match market conditions, provided smelters can reorganise other parts of their business to cope with changes in production. “The ability to increase production by using EnPot when times are good and aluminium prices are high, will also be much more cost effective than building new smelting capacity to accommodate increased consumer demand, which is predicted to rise over the next two decades. “This gives existing smelters a strategic advantage. For example, a company with a number of smelters in its portfolio could bring on stream the equivalent production of an entire new smelter for a fraction of the cost, by retro fitting EnPot to its existing smelters and increasing their output capacity,” Dr. Dorreen says. Aluminium International Today


How EnPot works The EnPot system provides dynamic control of the pot heat balance by placing up to 60 intricate heat exchangers against the outside of each pot and connecting them to an external ducting system. The airflow to each exchanger can be varied by using a series of precisely controlled extractor fans allowing the exchangers to either cool the pot, or keep it warm, depending on what is needed. Dr. Pretesh Patel, Chief Engineer at Energia Potior, says the EnPot system is cost effective at around US$20 million installed for a medium sized smelter. “The EnPot system does not change the intrinsic nature of the process, is totally non-invasive and carries no integrity risk to the smelter. It is also retro-fitted while the pots are fully operational,” he says. Dr. Patel, who has been intimately involved in the design and development of EnPot, says that the heat exchangers have been specifically designed to include the maximum amount of insulation possible, so that in the situation of a serious power failure the pots will be insulated, which doubles the time before pots begin to freeze. Dr. Patel says that modulating also brings a number of process efficiencies. “The power savings that EnPot has achieved even in normal operating mode was 1.8%, which increased to 7% when modulating. “At today’s current metal price, these savings would be around US$3.6m per annum for a medium sized smelter (300,000mt) using EnPot in normal operating mode,” Dr patel says. Dr. Patel also says that modulation opens up an opportunity to distribute excess power to complimentary industries located in close proximity to an aluminium smelter. “For example, Energia Potior has been asked to model the operating parameters of locating a silicon metal smelter alongside an existing aluminium smelter. “The silicon smelter would be interfaced with the aluminium smelter using a batch processing method to take advantage of the power supply liberated when the aluminium smelter is modulated down. Smelting two metals from a single power source would certainly have significant cost benefits, as well as adding to a smelter’s sustainability credentials. “This sort of power sharing model could be used for other complimentary industries where energy consumption could be synchronised with the modulating smelter.” Dr. Patel says. A sustainable future Energia Potior supports the progress being made to achieve sustainability in the Aluminium International Today

aluminium industry. It is a General Member of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) and will be contributing to the ASI Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Working Group, which will convene at the Aluminium 2016 World Trade Fair & Conference in Germany this November. COP21 made significant progress in adopting international goals for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The ASI Performance Standards, which explicitly recognises the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, requires entities seeking ASI Certification to commit to

While only incremental technological gains have been made in the aluminium smelting industry for over a century, it is evident that we are now entering an era where change will be a prerequisite to success. With the unprecedented global focus on reducing energy consumption and GHG emissions and increasing renewable energy capacity, it no longer seems an option, or appropriate, for the aluminium smelting industry to continue the status quo of producing aluminium in the confines of a maximum-production straightjacket.

Results from the Essen installation show that EnPot provided significant improvement to both current efficiency and energy consumption, due to stabilised ledge and heat transfer dynamics.

reducing both their GHG and energy use by source on an annual basis, publish time-bound emissions reduction targets, and implement a plan to achieve the targets. As approximately 80% of all GHG emissions in the aluminium industry worldwide relate to the energy-intensive smelting process, the ASI Performance Standard includes two smelter-specific criteria for both existing and post 2020 commissioned smelters. Even those smelters with dedicated hydro or geothermal power generation will need to consider their impact on GHG emissions if their exclusive use of hydro or geothermal power results in other users of the national grid relying on electricity generated from fossil fuels. These requirements represent a shift towards a lowered emissions profile for the primary aluminium production sector that is both significant and long-term. A new way of thinking As with any new technology that has the potential to transform markets, it often requires new ways of thinking to take advantage of the new opportunities.

Any new technology that enables primary aluminium production to evolve from a dead-end energy user, to a more sustainable and profitable industry longterm should be welcomed. It seems that smelters that can adapt and utilise the new flexibility that EnPot provides, will equip themselves best for survival and improved profitability going forward. In an industry where just 200 businesses consume the equivalent power as 1.2 billion people do domestically, it is inevitable that aluminium smelting will be subject to increased international scrutiny going forward. Breaking the constraints of the current cell designs and opening up the operating energy-use window will undoubtedly create new and exciting technological and contractual opportunities for aluminium smelters to embrace. In terms of gross economic efficiency and improved environmental performance, EnPot technology is likely to be the most significant breakthrough in aluminium smelting for the last 125 years.� Visit for more information 2016 Highlights


Alumina handling know-how By Alix Courau* and Vincent Verin**

Fives has been supplying solutions to treat emissions in aluminium smelters for more than 50 years. Based on a dry scrubbing technology, Fives’ treatment plants are recognised for their efficiency when it comes to treating gases and fumes emitted by reduction pots (Gas Treatment Centres – GTCs) or anode baking furnaces (Fume Treatment Centres – FTCs). Gas and fume treatment is performed by injecting alumina in reactors upstream of filter bags to adsorb fluorides. A dedicated alumina network is provided to supply all reactors and filters with fresh alumina. After contact with fluorides, fluorinated alumina then discharges from filter hoppers in the downstream part of the network for ultimate distribution to electrolysis pots. Transporting alumina is typically achieved through air gravity conveyors and airlifts. Up to now, Fives has been providing its own air gravity conveyors, a proven technology with proprietary equipment adapted to GTC flow rates, while sub-contracting other pieces of equipment such as airlifts when necessary. With time and experience, the company has acquired the know-how to engineer and provide some of the technologies

usually procured through third parties. Two products have recently been added to Fives’ alumina-handling portfolio: The vertical conveying airlift as well as a new horizontal fresh alumina conveyor named Aerios. These new pieces of equipment will provide more flexibility to deliver a complete alumina handling solution both for GTCs and FTCs. Airlifts for vertical alumina conveying Recycling fluorinated alumina is a key factor regarding aluminium production, as an input in fluorides at electrolysis stage allows a more efficient production. Therefore, in downstream GTC filters, fluorinated alumina is collected and carried back to electrolysis pots via alumina handling equipment, which include airlifts. An airlift is a system designed to elevate alumina by dozens of metres. It is always provided at the discharge end of a GTC to convey fluorinated alumina into an elevated storage silo that is used as a buffer between the GTC and the pots alumina feeding system. An airlift consists of a reservoir located at ground level or in a pit that receives the incoming alumina

from an air gravity conveyor. Such alumina is then conveyed pneumatically through a riser pipe up to a disengagement chamber. In the disengagement chamber, the air is separated from alumina. The alumina discharges into a dedicated air gravity conveyor or directly into a storage silo while the vented air joins the venting network that is connected to the GTC or FTC inlet duct. This piece of equipment is usually provided in a pair with one unit in standby mode for maintenance comfort. According to the company, the airlifts can ensure alumina transport for all sizes of GTCs, with capacity up to 70 T/h. The main advantages are: • A relatively high transport velocity • A low concentration of alumina in the air called diluted phase • A dispersion of alumina particles in the conveying pipe that ensures no plugging. The robustness of this technology relies on the pressure balance between two columns of different density that naturally auto-adjust. Important parameters that must be controlled are the available height for the reservoir and the air flow and velocity that allow this equilibrium to occur.

Fives’ airlifts in ALBA GTC

*Process engineer **Process Technician, Fives 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today

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%.


Fives’ Aerios in ALRO GTC

In January 2015, Fives commissioned its first proprietary airlifts, designed to convey 48 T/h of fluorinated alumina in the aluminium smelter of Alba, Bahrain. The plant amperage increase leads to have hotter gases, so more alumina is needed to keep same performance. The airlift is conveying alumina up to the silo (approx 40 metres high). Alumina is then discharged in the enriched network for the needs of the potrooms. Whether supplied as lone pieces of equipment, integrated in revamping, or incorporated in new treatment units, Fives can manage engineering, fabrication, erection and commissioning of airlifts to ensure complete satisfaction of its customers. Aerios for horizontal alumina conveying With Fives’ Aerios system, alumina is transported upstream filters through a flat conveyor. Aerios is designed as an air conveyor with two compartments separated by a fabric – the upper part being used for alumina flow and the lower part for fluidization air. Compared to air gravity conveyors traditionally installed with a slope where alumina flows like a liquid, the Aerios system is

completely filled with fluidised alumina. It is the alumina pressure that allows the horizontal transport until the extremity of Aerios. Alumina is distributed among each filter through lateral chutes that feed variable speed rotary airlocks. Thanks to this horizontal solution, GTC/FTC height can be reduced (as no inclination is required from traditional air gravity conveyors) thus reducing associated costs – especially regarding structure. Compared to other solutions, Aerios provides an accurate dosing of fresh alumina for each filter leading to

an optimum efficiency regarding fluoride removal. Furthermore, Aerios has the capability to allow adjustments in the fresh alumina distribution at each filter when combined with an HF monitoring system providing continuous HF measurement at the outlet of each filter module. This feature is provided thanks to variable speed metering rotary valves that distribute alumina to each filter. These rotary valves combine three functions which are transportation, distribution to each filter, and metering of alumina inside GTCs. The Aerios design is an alternate configuration to the classical solution requiring a distribution box with individual air gravity conveyors that feed each reactor/filter. However, the distribution box configuration remains more favourable for plants where alumina flow is regulated at the day silo discharge, at the very inlet of the GTC. Aerios has been developed and installed by Fives in cooperation with the aluminium smelter of Vimetco, ALRO, in Romania. With the courtesy of ALRO it has been operating for nearly one year, since its commissioning where it handles 30 T/h of fresh alumina and distributes it to the 10 GTC filters. Following this successful implementation, a standard Fives’ solution has been developed, including different sizes of Aerios covering a large range of alumina flows. With Aerios and the distribution box, Fives can now supply two reliable solutions for fresh alumina supply depending on plant configuration, conveying distance and customer requirements (eg. alumina supply adjustment depending on HF measurement at each filter outlet, a feature possible with Aerios). � Contact

Cascade, an alumina feed solution started up at Alma Fives has successfully put in operation its Cascade Feeding System on three Gas Treatment Centres (GTCs) at the Rio Tinto‘s Alma smelter, located in Quebec, Canada. This system has been implemented as part of the global AP30 Pot Amperage Increase Program, boosting pot amperage to 400 kA, while respecting the HF emission limits allowed by the existing permit. According to Fives, the integration of the Cascade system has occurred

smoothly despite all three GTCs operating 24 hours a day without interruption; it was a key factor synchronising the installation process with the sequence of annual maintenance. The Cascade Feeding System is a patented invention from Fives. It consists of a redistribution of fresh alumina within the GTC, that enhances the capture of HF pollutants at higher pot gas temperature. This is a premiere retrofit implemented on the TGT–RI filtering technology, confirming the successful results already

obtained on the last generation of filters, Ozeos, installed at the Rio Tinto’s Jonquiere plant. The Cascade Feeding System is a simple solution for modifying and improving the performance of GTCs. Test results have shown a 35% improvement of HF capture on the TGTRI while operating under the Cascade mode with hot gas temperature.


Fig 1. AP60 phase 1 plant

Case Study: AP60 Managing Risk Successfully managing a technological risk on a major industrial capital project within a full EPCM organisation and a tight schedule. By Bernard Pelletier*, Jean-Pierre Desmoulins**, & Sylvain Larouche*** The Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) AP60 phase 1 aluminium smelter project faced many technological challenges and risks, since it was the first industrial construction implementing the new AP60 technology aluminium production technology. Typically, on a major industrial project, technology development is completed before starting the project execution phase to minimise the risk of cost and schedule overrun. In this paper, we will focus on one technological challenge that was identified as an important project risk, and explain how this risk was successfully managed during project execution. In the case of the AP60 project, one of the main threats was the amperage used in the production resulted in a magnetic field much higher than in any existing smelting plant or normal industrial facilities, potentially affecting critical equipment. The technological risk in this case was that the equipment impacted by the high magnetic field may not operate at all or may not function as expected. The impact of the magnetic field on the equipment was identified as a class III (severe) risk (threat) on a scale that ranges from I to IV during a risk session held during the feasibility phase. A class III risk (threat) on the RTA matrix requires proactive management. At that time, there were three possible options identified to manage this risk:

1. Transfer the risk to all suppliers and contractors; 
 2. Assign the risk according to the suppliers’ or contractors’ knowledge and capabilities; 
 3. The project takes the risk entirely by doing all technological development. Option 2 was selected by the project team for the following reasons: Optimal risk allocation to whom is in the best position to mitigate it; 
 � Collaborative approach with suppliers who do not have the knowledge and capabilities to 
make the equipment reliable under a high magnetic field. 
As a proactive action, a fully engaged team was put in place to manage this specific technological risk from the very beginning until the end of the project realisation, and a specific budget was provided. The objectives of the risk management team were to minimise the impacts on the project schedule, cost and equipment functionality. 
 Nearly 600 devices and equipment were tested and altered to be made reliable in a high magnetic field when required. These 600 devices and equipment were supplied through 40 different procurement packages over a 24-month project calendar. Due to the risk mitigations implemented, no impacts were measured on the overall project schedule, cost and

 Key success factors were: 
 � Optimal risk allocation to whom is in the best position to mitigate it; 
 � Risk management team put in place early in the project; 
 � Good management practices with KPIs defined early, regular meetings and close follow- 
up with contractors and suppliers with a collaborative approach. 
 Project definition and context The AP60 phase 1 project consisted of the construction of the demonstration phase of the new AP60 technology. The plant consists of 38 AP60 technology electrolytic cells (pots) and the required services and auxiliary equipment. AP60 phase 1 is located on the existing RTA Jonquière complex, in Jonquière, Quebec, Canada. The location is the site of a previously demolished smelter. This project, like most major projects, was conducted using multi-stage gate phases. The project identification, project definition and project implementation phases were executed with the client’s approval prior to each phase. The AP60 project identification started in 2007. The notice to proceed was received in December 2010 and the project was completed in December 2012. The construction required more than 5 million site working hours, the mobilisation of

*P. Eng., M. A. Sc., Hatch **Managing Director, REEL Alesa LTD ***P. Eng., Rio Tinto Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


Most serious consequence

V. Low




Highly likely

Class II

Class III

Class IV

Class IV


Class II

Class III

Class III

Class IV


Class I

Class II

Class III

Class IV

Very unlikely

Class I

Class I

Class II

Class III

Risk class


Class I

Risks that are below the risk acceptance threshold and do not require active

Class II

Risks that lie on the risk acceptance threshold and require active monitoring

Classs III

Risks that exceed the risk acceptance threshold ad require proactive management

Class IV

Risks that significantly exceed the risk acceptance threshold and need urgent and immediate attention

Fig 2. Risk matrix scheme utilised on the AP60 project

over 100 equipment suppliers and 50 installation contractors. The capital value of the AP60 phase 1 project was CAD 1.3 billion. The AP60 aluminium plant was officially handed over to the client in December 2012. The AP60 phase 1 project won the PMI 2014 Best Project Award1. The AP60 project has been honoured by Project Management Institute (PMI) as the winner of the profession’s highest accolade at the 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award. Project organisation As a joint venture, Hatch and SNC-Lavalin were awarded the full engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) services. Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) gathered together their own highly-skilled personnel and selected the most experienced people from the joint venture pool to form the project management team. All project study and engineering phases were conducted by this integrated team of 250 people at its peak. The project management team was responsible for integrating all project activities: Engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning – toward common project objectives with regards to scope, schedule, cost, quality and performance. They were responsible for providing all resources and tools required to deliver the project to RTA’s satisfaction. Project risk management organisation A project risk manager was appointed by the project manager early in the feasibility study. The project risk management team involved the following personnel: � Project manager � Project risk manager � HSE risk registers coordinators � Risk owners � Project planner An essential feature was to identify individuals who would be responsible for each identified significant risk and its related responses. The project manager or his representative nominated risk owners 2016 Highlights

responsible for each risk. The risk manager prepared, with the project planner, a plan of the risk management activities for the project duration. The nominated risk owners collaborated with the risk manager and health and safety and environment (HSE) risk coordinators to further identify, propose and implement appropriate risk responses. Risk identification-evaluation activities were conducted during periodic meetings. Risk owners are identified and are responsible for monitoring the progress of mitigation actions, in collaboration with the risk manager and HSE coordinators through the periodic meeting-interview process. At the AP60 project phase 1, we utilised the correct techniques and deployed a risk management plan and philosophy to avoid the typical mistake2 in risk management. Risk definition What is a risk? A risk refers to a potential/ uncertain event or circumstance, which, if it occurs, could result in adverse or positive impact on the outcomes of a project3. If the consequence is negative, the risk will be treated as a threat to the project objectives. Objectives and challenge The RTA AP60 phase 1 project had many technological challenges and risks, since it was the first industrial construction implementing the AP60 new technology. In this paper, we focus on one technological challenge that was identified as an important project risk, and explain how this risk was successfully managed to minimise impact on project schedule, cost and equipment functionality. Typically, in a major industrial project, technology development is completed before starting the project execution phase to minimise the risk. The AP60 technology has been developed by RTA as part of an R&D program, but had never been scaled up to the industrial scale. This was the objective of the AP60 phase 1 project implemented at the Jonquière Complex.

In the case of the AP60 project, one of the main threats (unwanted but uncertain event) was that the amperage used resulted in a corresponding magnetic field much higher than in any existing smelting plant and because of which some critical equipment might be affected. In an aluminium electrolysis pot room, the intensive direct current that flows through the conductors (busbars) creates a stable magnetic field (constant intensity). Equipment impacted by the magnetic field may not operate at all, or may not function as expected. In this case, the technological risk is equipment not working at all, or not functioning as intended due to the high magnetic field developed by the busbars (main electrical conductors). More specifically, the non-operating or malfunction (erratic behaviour) of a critical device may have the following consequences: � Safety risk for the employees and workers (minor to severe injury); 
 � Damage to the equipment or device;
 � Difficulty or impossibility to operate the smelter. 
 Thus, equipment impacted by the magnetic field was identified as an important threat to some of the project objectives. During a risk review session review held at the feasibility stage of the project, it was identified as a class III (Severe) risk (threat) on a scale that ranges from I to IV. A class III risk (threat) on the RTA matrix requires proactive management as per the risk matrix scheme in fig 2. 
 It should be noted that any object made of magnetisable material (ironbased material), placed inside a magnetic field is subjected to a force that aligns this object with the magnetic field lines, or this object starts to move or move unexpectedly. Thus, a device such as a contact relay or a solenoid valve may have an erratic behaviour when submitted to a high magnetic field. An electronic device may overheat or not operate at all or as intended. 
 The operation of an aluminium smelter plant requires hundreds of different types of devices or equipment that may malfunction in a high magnetic field. 
 RTA, through their internal technology supplier, has significant knowledge of the impact of high magnetic fields on equipment as a result of their work at their research laboratory located at Saint– Jean-de-Maurienne, France, where they operate three pots. Based on the modeling study, the RTA technology supplier has developed a magnetic field map for the AP60 phase Aluminium International Today


1 project. This map was used to identify magnetic field intensity and orientation on equipment dependent of their location within the plant. RTA has also incorporated high magnetic field design recommendations (general and specific for some equipment) as part of their AP60 pilot plant specifications issued to the EPCM team. From a project management perspective, mitigation actions have to be identified to address the possible consequences related to the above threats – i.e. potential equipment malfunction – which may lead to severe equipment damage or employees being injured. Consequently, one of the challenges is to identify all equipment, components or devices that may not work properly when exposed to a high magnetic field. Once these equipment, components or devices are identified, the objective is to take the necessary actions early in the project execution phase to ensure suppliers take appropriate measures to make them reliable, thus minimising the impact on the project schedule or cost. A detailed and specific list of equipment or devices reliable or not in a high magnetic field had to be built throughout the project execution of the AP60 phase 1. With the experience gained at the SaintJean-de-Maurienne research laboratory, RTA established a preliminary list of equipment or devices that are reliable when operating in a high magnetic field. But even then, their reliability has to be confirmed for the main following reasons: � The plant design is not the same (many devices were not included in this initial design); 
 � Devices and equipment technologies change over time, i.e. a specific contact relay from 
a supplier can be modified by the supplier, which makes it unreliable in a high magnetic field. 
 A major project like AP60 phase 1 is divided into many purchase or contract packages that are essential to optimise project requirements versus suppliers’ or contractors’ capabilities and facilitate the required management. For the AP60 project, there were nearly 150 contracts or purchase packages. 
The normal execution of a major project c an be summarised by these steps for each package: 1. Prepare technical and commercial documents for tender calls; 
 2. Tenders offer technical and commercial analysis, clarification and recommendation; 
 3. Contract issuance to the selected suppliers or contractors; 
 4. Supplier or contractor execution and contract management by the EPCM team. Aluminium International Today

 During the first two steps, the EPCM team’s objective is to provide all technical and commercial information required by the bidders to avoid any impact at the stage where the supplier or contractor executes their contract. Any missing information or misunderstanding represents a risk for the project execution, and may have an impact on project objectives (plant throughput, health and safety of employees, capital and operating cost and schedule). The unknown technical information (uncertainty) regarding the impact of the high magnetic field on equipment, 
 components and devices, while the EPCM was preparing technical and commercial documents for tender calls, is the main challenge discussed in this paper. This paper will present how the project team successfully managed this risk. Risk manager (Jean-Pierre Desmoulins, RTA)

and provides the technical information to the suppliers and contractors before issuing the contract for each package. 
 Option 1 was not retained by the project team since we considered that transferring the risk to suppliers or contractors that do not have the knowledge and capabilities to mitigate this risk was not the best solution, and may affect the project outcomes: � The suppliers and contractors will increase their bid price to bear the risk. 
 � The probability that they will effectively supply equipment reliable in a high magnetic field 
is very low since they do not have the knowledge and capabilities to mitigate this risk. 
 � Any equipment that is not reliable in a high magnetic field represents a significant probability of postponement of the commissioning and the plant startup. At the end, the project team will Fig 3. High magnetic field risk management team organisation chart

Packages risk coordinator (Bernard Pelletier, Hatch)

Technical lead (Sylvain Larouche, RTA)

Suppliers and contractors

Mobile equipment suppliers and internal suppliers

Risk management approaches As stated earlier, this risk was identified as an important risk during the risk review held at the feasibility stage of the project. This requires proactive management. Three risk management options were possible at the time: 1. Transfer the risk to all suppliers and contractors by including the magnetic field specifications to meet in the technical bid document. That meant transferring the responsibility to suppliers and contractors to supply equipment and devices working in the specified magnetic field and mandate that they prove it with supporting technical documents provided to the project team. 
 2. Assign the risk according to the supplier’s or contractor’s capabilities to mitigate it. Contractor’s capabilities assessed based on his knowledge and methodologies relative to technological development and involve them in defined activities (i.e.: specific technical reviews); 
 3. The project takes on the entire risk by doing all technological development,

Testing team (Fabconcept)

be responsible to make the equipment working to so that the investment 
of CAD 1.3 billion is profitable as soon as possible.
 Poor risk allocation strategies can easily turn projects into contractual battlefields and leads to all considerable time spent resolving contractual claims4. This can have a direct impact on projects cost, quality and delay. For technological risk, this approach would be a value destructive approach and would prevent RTA from achieving their business objectives. Option 3 was not retained by the project either, since it would require considerable time and resources and will have a direct impact on the overall project schedule. Also, it would not be possible since most suppliers and contractors need to do the engineering first to define a detailed list of equipment and devices when they are awarded the contract. That means the project cannot provide a detailed list of equipment and devices reliable in a high magnetic field prior issuing the contact. 
 2016 Highlights


Option 2 was selected by the project team for the following reasons: � Optimal risk allocation to those in the best position to mitigate it. As stated earlier, the project was divided into 150 packages, and after a first technical review, 40 packages were found to be at risk (involving a significant threat) i.e. impacted by the high magnetic field. Of these 40 packages, less than 10% were under suppliers and contractors that had the knowledge and capabilities to make the equipment reliable under a high magnetic field. For these packages, the technological development and the risk associated were under their responsibility.
 � A collaborative approach with suppliers that do not have the knowledge and capabilities to make the equipment reliable under a high magnetic field. The project requested that the suppliers and contractors add 2 to 3 technical meeting reviews with our technical specialist in their proposal to identify equipment, components and devices that may not work in a high magnetic field, and work together to find the best solution to minimize the impact on their contract in terms of cost and schedule. Equipment testing was the project’s responsibility. 
To manage the risk (threat) based on the selected approach, we put in place a management strategy and a team as follows. Risk management strategy A budget was established at the beginning of the project to cover: � Added project team resources to manage the risk; 
 � Testing activities; 
 � Equipment purchasing (equipment to be tested); 
 � Contract changes due to necessary design modifications by the suppliers to make their 
equipment reliable in a high magnetic field. 
Different sites within the RTA smelters group were identified to perform component and equipment testing in magnetic field prior deploying at the AP60 plant. To complete the risk mitigation work, 10 days were added to the commissioning schedule of the reduction plant to cover activities for equipment testing in the real magnetic field. To meet this tight testing schedule, several small teams were put in place to work in parallel under the owner’s responsibility for the preparation and testing in the real magnetic field. 
 Specific Key performance indexes (KPIs) were defined and tracked during project execution: 1. Budget spending index: Total actual budget spent over the total budget allocated for the packages altered to be 2016 Highlights

made reliable in a high magnetic field. 
 2. Ratio of number of equipment to make reliable over the number of equipment identified that could not work in a high magnetic field. 
 3. Schedule index: number of packages that may represent a risk to their delivery schedule due to the high magnetic field development. For those representing a threat, specific actions were put in place to mitigate them. 
 A monthly steering committee meeting was held with the project management team during which the progress, KPIs and challenges were presented. In addition, a weekly coordination meeting to discuss short-term activities was held. 
 Our collaborative approach with our suppliers and contractors involved to closely follow up these steps for each package: At the package kick-off meeting with the supplier or contractor, a more detailed explanation about this risk was given, as well as the intended collaboration strategy. 
 During both the supplier’s and the contractor’s design activities, design review meetings were held to identify equipment or devices that may not be reliable in a high magnetic field. In the case where testing was required, it was performed by the project and the results were shared with the supplier or contractor to identify the best solution. The solution could be replacing a device, changing the physical location of the equipment or adding a shield. Risk management team organisation chart A fully engaged team from the very beginning of the project until the end was put in place to manage this specific technological risk, as shown in the organisation chart (fig 3). 
 This specific risk management team (risk owners) reported to the overall AP60 project risk manager. The risk manager’s role was to conduct a monthly steering committee meeting with the project management team during which the KPIs and challenges were presented, and to hold a weekly coordination meeting to discuss shortterm activities identify priorities and remove road blocks. The packages risk coordinator’s role was to maintain a close collaboration with suppliers and contractors and help the risk manager to prepare and hold the monthly steering committee meeting. The technical lead’s role was to maintain a database of the equipment or devices tested and altered to be made reliable in a high magnetic field, work with suppliers and contractors to find solutions, do the

coordination and manage the testing team, as well as help the risk manager to prepare and hold the monthly steering committee meeting. Results Nearly 600 devices and equipment were tested and altered to be made reliable in a high magnetic field when required. These 600 devices and equipment were supplied through 40 different packages on a 24-month project calendar. The majority were altered to be made reliable in close collaboration with suppliers and contractors at the testing step within the RTA smelters group. Only 75% of the mitigation budget was used, there was no impact on the overall project execution schedule or cost, and the equipment was tested and altered to be made reliable in a real magnetic field within the 10 days planned. There were some remaining equipment to modify to be made reliable in a high magnetic field after this testing period, but were not identified as critical for plant start-up. Conclusion Often in the industry4, risk is allocated according to whom does not want it, rather than who can best manage it. We did the complete opposite to successfully mitigate this risk (threat) throughout project execution. Proactive actions were identified and taken as soon as the risk was identified during the risk session review held at the project feasibility study step. We identified the best people to manage this threat early in the project, and we kept them involved until the plant was fully commissioned. We followed the best practices in project risk management as well explained in Practice Standard for Project Risk Management, published by Project Management Institute3. The key success factors were: � Optimal risk allocation to whom is in the best position to mitigate it; 
 � Risk management team put in place early in the project; 
 � Good management practices with KPIs defined early, regular meetings, and close follow- 
up with contractors and suppliers with a collaborative approach. �
 References 1. Project Management Network, November 2014, Project of the year producing more for less. 2. Top 10 mistakes Made in Managing Project Risks, Joseph Lucas & Rick Clare, PMI Global Congress Proceedings, Dallas, Texas, 2011. 3. Practice Standard for project risk management, published by Project Management Institute, 2009. 4. Scope of improvement 2011, Project riskgetting the right balance and outcomes, Blake Dawson, 2011. 
 Aluminium International Today

PRIMARY 39 ABB Equipment at Rio Tinto Kitimat smelter substation

The power of electricity Worldwide, ABB is involved in major power or industrial projects where energy is involved. The company is a respected reference in the supply of technology solutions to more than one hundred aluminium smelters all over the world. This article looks at new electrification technology for aluminium smelters. By Ghislain Gonthier* Aluminium current market conditions are presenting challenges and most smelters are adopting strategies of either securing their assets to reduce operational risk or attempting to maximise the most efficiency out of existing assets. China is currently forecast to engage in building new production capacity, whereas the rest of the world producers are either curtailing production or creating solutions to increase output of existing assets. Different solutions are currently being implemented in Canadian smelter operations and ABB is a pro-active agent of this transformation. At the substation level, three main strategies are being implemented by aluminium producers, such as, 1. Increasing DC current; 2. Revamping DC output control; and 3. Substation Advanced Services. Increasing DC current supplied from the substation can be achieved with installation of additional rectifier systems. This technique brings several benefits. In a case where existing equipment has been in operation, for example, for several decades, bringing new DC supply capacity allows a reduction on the burden of the existing “legacy� equipment. It can also provide the ability to extend shut downs of other units for revamp, inspection and other maintenance. All these have a direct impact on extending the life of rectifier and transformer substation equipment.

Revamping DC output control also brings several benefits. Primarily, the first benefit is the reduction of operational risk. Over time, the spare parts on the controller components are difficult to source, sometimes unavailable or are unsupported by the manufacturers. Moreover, modern communication elements such as IEC61850 for Intelligent Electronic Device (IED), which were not available on previous generation equipment, can greatly improve efficiency. Availability of machine-to-machine communication brings more information, faster. If well used, it could increase availability of equipment by better predicting equipment behaviour and prevent failure. Increasing potline current stability allows producers to focus their attention to other aspects of process variability to maximise potential aluminium output. ABB is experienced in implementing high-speed controller systems that can precisely monitor DC current output from rectifier substations. As an example, an ABB customer, after reviewing his before and after current output curves from the smelter potline, informed ABB that the signal was so nice it must be filtered somewhere. In fact the signal was a direct measure of the current at the main DC bus just before entering the potline. Modern rectifier controllers offer high speed I/O with imbedded software capabilities that make it possible to reduce

imbalance within rectifier legs or wheels, then between several rectifiers. ABB experience shows, with respect to certain project contexts where the imbalance correction was significant, the investment was repaid for the whole project within several months. Substation Advanced Services enable the asset owner to manage the risk of operating and maintaining substation equipment to ensure optimal investment to keep the desired system reliability. Three different solutions were developed to address the asset management challenge: a) Substation Assessment, b) Substation Care and c) Substation LifeStretch. All three together provide a clear understanding of the actual risk profile of the substation and also a path forward to long term operations. Substation Assessment: A reliability model of the installation is built to understand risk related to each component and prioritise the technical recommendations to improve substation reliability, which are then presented into an Assessment technical report. The risk associated to each component is calculated based into the site assessment of the condition and the calculation of its importance which is related to the failures modes and consequences of a potential failure.

*Aluminium market segment manager, North America Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


Substation Care Packages: Maintenance investment optimisation is a process where the cost related to all planned tasks must be balanced with the benefit of the investment. The challenge lies on performing the right action at the right time. Reliability centered maintenance (RCM) methodology is based into planning the cost allocation based on the risk related to each component in the substation. By following this methodology, total maintenance investment is reduced. The number of unnecessary maintenance actions planned is minimised. Increased uptime of equipment is achieved by shedding light on the critical items where focus should be. Substation LifeStretch: Multiple technical solutions can be considered both when the substation lifecycle is reaching the design limit, and when there is a need to extend the functionality of the asset. ABB has developed LifeStretch methodology, which is used to support the asset owner and help to make informed decisions. These are based on a detailed analysis of the alternatives considering multiobjective criteria including financials, technology and technical KPIs such as

Typical ABB High power rectifier system

lifecycle cost, failure rate, expected cost of power interruption or environmental and health and safety considerations. All three strategies described above allows the increase in DC current supply availability with limited investment, compared to adding new potlines. When well planned, it brings the substation back to N operating condition that is often lost because of multiple creeping programs implemented over the years. It also has a positive and significant impact to insurance premium. The new Kitimat smelter built by Rio Tinto is a great example of current stability

and modern communication. Equipped with the latest controller, the current is always optimum. Substation equipment were supplied by ABB. They are made of modern control systems with high speed I/O and IEC61850 connectivity. Building a brand new smelter in a brown field environment is challenging, however, equipment was energised on time and made 100% available. � Contact




Primary: Aluminium production technology; anode manufacture and rodding; power supply; pot room equipment; metal transfer. Casthouse: Aluminium transfer and casting; degassing; treatment; sawing. Recycling Supplement

14th International Aluminium Recycling Congress, UK (7–8 Feb 2017) TMS, USA (26 Feb-2 March 2017)


Extrusion: Billet heating; low saws; extrusion presses; die production and maintenance; handling extruded products; cutting; value-added products. Furnaces/heat treatment: Homogenising furnaces; slab heating furnaces; ageing ovens; annealing furnaces; solution heat treatment furnaces; die heaters; log and billet heaters and associated handling equipment; refractories; heat measurement technology. Italian Supplement DIGITAL ISSUE: Packaging.

Anode Rodding, Iceland (25-27 April 2017) Aluminium Middle East, Dubai (15–17 May 2017)


Rolling: Hot and cold rolling technology; annealing; alloys; strip casting; twin-roll casting; twin-belt casting; rolled products. Transport & handling: Tyred vehicles, rail vehicles, pot room vehicles; cranes; bundling and strapping; wrapping. Incorporating Chinese language issue

Metal + Metallurgy China 2017 (13-16 June 2017) Metef & Aluminium Two Thousand, Italy (20-24 June 2017) Aluminium China (19-21 July 2017)


Secondary: Aluminium scrap processing; metal recovery; contaminated scrap; dross recovery; Aluminium India metal filtration. (7–9 Sept 2017) Analysis & Testing: Mechanical testing; spectrometry; measurement; software. Anode Supplement DIGITAL ISSUE: Sustainability.


Aluminium ingot pre-heating Saving energy and cost, By Andy Darby* Preparing a direct-chill (DC) cast aluminium ingot for hot rolling is both time and energy consuming. It can require about 1.2 MJ of energy per kilogram of final product to perform the homogenisation and pre-heating operations. This compares with about 0.2 MJ/kg for the hot rolling process itself. Pit-type furnaces for pre-heating are still in widespread use by rollers of aluminium flat products. Although they may not be the most efficient method of pre-heating, they do provide a flexible store of ingots to maximise availability of metal to the ‘hot line’ (rolling mills). There are different configurations of pit furnace – some with the heating air flowing top-to-bottom (or vice-versa), others with the air flowing horizontally. There are also ‘pusher-type’ preheating furnaces, where generally the airflow is from bottom-to-top – albeit over the shorter length of the width of the rolling face of each ingot. A key role of the pre-heat facility is to ensure that the ‘hot’ mills, where the greatest capital is tied up, are kept occupied with production. Fig 1 shows a schematic of a gas-fired pre-heat pit furnace also showing the major sources of energy loss from the furnace. The pre-heat furnace usually performs the dual functions of homogenising the metal and of holding it at a temperature suitable for rolling. In order to achieve satisfactory final properties, the temperature distribution in the ingot following the pre-heat must be uniform. For this reason, pre-heat cycles are sometimes excessive in length to ensure that uniformity has been achieved – bearing in mind that the only information a process operator has to go on is one or more surface temperatures. It would be an advantage to know the temperature distribution in the ingot throughout the pre-heat so that duration of heating cycles can be optimised. Shortening cycle time is one of the best ways of saving energy per kilogram rolled, as heat is lost from

the furnace even when the ingot is simply being held at temperature. Improving the temperature uniformity within the ingot prior to rolling is one of the best ways of reducing losses (scrapped material) at all subsequent stages further down the process line – thereby reducing energy consumption and incurred costs through wasted effort everywhere. Furnace modelling It is possible to model the temperature at all locations within the ingot during the pre-heat cycle. Fig 2 shows how the ingot may be discretised for modelling purposes. A model may perform [3D] transient calculations of temperature at the centre of all the elements in the ingot, shown in Fig 2, throughout the heating cycle. The boundary conditions for the model are the air temperature and the heat transfer coefficients (HTC) on the ingot surfaces. These can be determined from first principles and then the model calibrated against experimental data from furnace trials. In general, these types of furnaces rely on the flow of heated air, usually using one or more fan units. Except

Exhaust gas losses

in unusual circumstances, the airflow will not be uniform around and over each surface of the load of ingots, and hence the model will benefit from a means of estimating the flows for each surface. Consequently it is possible to model the effects on energy consumption of a range of different ingot sizes in a given load and different furnace geometries. The best heat transfer coefficients are achieved where local air velocities are highest. However, significant heat transfer can also be achieved by using very hot air. For some aluminium alloys however, melting may occur at temperatures well below the frequently and usually remembered 660°C. Fig 3 shows the temperature distribution inside the ingot in the vertical plane at the mid-width position for a typical pre-heat process after five hours in the furnace. There could be about 100°C difference at this stage between the top and bottom of the ingot. As the air passes down over the ingot it loses energy (temperature) into the ingot. The rate of heat transfer is not often uniform everywhere on the ingot surface.

Fig 1. Schematic of a typical gas-heated, direct-fired Pit furnace with recuperator

Burner Air leakage from lid





Ingot load

Fan Cold air leakage into furnace

Heat loss through walls & structure

Fan Cold air leakage into furnace

*Senior Consultant Engineer, Innoval Technology, Aluminium International Today

2016 Highliths


Air flow



HTC (top)

HTC (edges) HTC (sides) HTC (bottom)

Fig 2. Division of an ingot into elements for modelling

Shortening heat-up times One of the important methods of judging how to improve the cycle is by minimising the gap between the hottest (leading) and coldest (lagging) temperatures anywhere in the ingot through the cycle. Fig 4 shows the leading and lagging temperatures through the heat-up time for a typical pit furnace. In order to achieve the required material properties for rolling, the temperature difference between ‘lead’ and ‘lag’ must be minimised (ideally, zero) and this can easily be assessed with a calibrated model. It may be noted from Fig 4 that in this illustration the ingot temperature does not become uniform until quite close to the end of the heat-up period. The generalised heat transfer equation may be expressed as: Q=h*A*∆T Apart from making design changes to the furnace and fan equipment (effectively controlling the overall heat transfer coefficient ‘h’), the other part of the governing equation worthy of attention is the temperature difference ‘∆T’ – in this instance the difference between ingot surface and hot air temperatures. It is often possible to accelerate the early part of the cycle by using higher set-point air temperatures. Fig 4 shows significantly higher than target air temperatures used at the beginning of the heat-up. The model indicates that for the time the high air temperatures are used, there is no danger of over-heating any part of the ingot. Because a model effectively can give warning of excess temperature anywhere on the ingot it allows a more aggressive heating regime which can enable a reduction in overall heating time without danger of damaging the ingot. This technique pre-supposes that there is sufficient power in the burners (or heating elements if electrically heated) to maintain 2016 Highlights

the air temperature at or near its set value. It is important to include the power limits in the modelling and thus calculate the actual air temperature, not just the set-point value. The problem of power limitation is most acute at the start of the cycle when the ingots can absorb heat at a high rate because they are relatively cold. Uniformity of heat transfer In the main, ingots are heated up by being exposed to heated air flowing over their exposed surfaces. The higher the velocity, the better the heat transfer coefficient is likely to be, and therefore the resulting rise in ingot temperature. Air, being a typical fluid, will however always find the path of least resistance in its path around the furnace and load. Generally speaking it will predominantly tend to flow through the largest openings. One of the advantages of the pusher-type furnace is that the ingots are automatically evenly spaced (by the ‘shoes’ they sit on to be transported through the furnace). In a pit furnace, difficulties in loading ingots into confined spaces can easily lead to narrow gaps between adjacent ingots or ingots resting against furnace walls for example. Together with the natural gaps created by loads of dissimilar ingot sizes, it is easy to see how air flows may not be uniform and hence not treating all the ingots equally. In extreme cases, air may not flow over parts of the ingot surface at all – socalled ‘dead spots’ can arise. This is not to say that the parts of the ingot in such 500°C TOP



ckn ess



403°C Position through thickness

Fig 3. Modelled temperature distribution inside an ingot after five hours of heating. The temperatures are shown in the plane through the thickness at the mid-width position

regions will not heat up at all, they will – but the local heat transfer coefficient will be different (and lower most probably) and lead to even greater temperature variations than those illustrated in Fig 3. The modelling approach is able to identify the effects of such non-uniform ingot loading and enable suitable remedial approaches to be taken. Reducing energy consumption As seen from Fig 1, energy is lost by conduction through the furnace walls, up the exhaust stack (when gas-fired) and by leakage of air into and out of the furnace. It is typical for about twice as much energy to be supplied to the furnace as is required to raise the temperature of the ingot. A small but not insignificant proportion of this is the electrical energy expended to circulate air around the furnace. Efficient and appropriate fans (and motors) are essential to minimising the costs of operation of these furnaces. Electrical energy is more expensive than gas energy and has a bigger carbon footprint so it is worth minimising its use. Recuperation In a direct-fired gas furnace, a mass of air corresponding to the combustion gas and air must be extracted from the furnace and exhausted up the stack. This represents a significant energy loss. However, it can be considerably reduced by the use of a recuperator which recovers heat from the exhaust stream and transfers it to the incoming combustion air. A recuperator is a heat exchanger consisting of a tube stack enclosed in a shell or box. The hot exhausting air passes through the recuperator tubes and the incoming combustion air is drawn over the external surfaces of the tube stack. The air is thus heated on its route to the burners. Fig 5 shows the benefit which may be obtained by using a recuperator. As energy becomes more expensive and as the drive to reduce carbon emissions increases, recuperators will become more and more attractive. Sometimes the recuperators are fitted to the burners themselves. These are known as recuperative burners. They are generally smaller and cheaper but less efficient than stand-alone recuperators. Air leakage Another contribution to the energy lost from furnaces is due to air leakage out of or into a furnace. If no recuperator is fitted, it is possible to tolerate quite large leakages of air out of the furnace without affecting the energy efficiency. This is because the combustion air must be extracted up the stack and air leaking out of the furnace simply reduces the flow up the stack by the same amount. However, if the air leakage Aluminium International Today



Air temperature set-point

Leading ingot temperature

Lagging ingot temperature Time Fig 4. Leading and lagging temperatures in an ingot during the heat-up part of a pre-heat cycle

exceeds the combustion air requirement then there will then be significant energy loss. This can more easily occur towards the end of the cycle when the gas firing level is low. Furthermore, if a recuperator is fitted, even modest levels of air leakage out of the furnace are important as the recuperator can only recover heat from air, which passes through it. Usually there are parts of the furnace, which operate below the ambient static air pressure. This is often near close to the intakes of the re-circulating fans. If the furnace is not well sealed in this

region, cold air can be pulled into the furnace from outside. This has a more serious affect than air leaking out, as the in-coming cold air must be heated right up to the operating temperature of the furnace. Fig 5 also shows the effect of a possible leakage of air into a pit furnace. The energy loss over the 25-hour period can amount to an increase in energy of 10%. Leakages of air into the furnace are not as obvious to the operators as there are no visible effects, in contrast to what occurs with air leaking out. Damage to furnace structures, refractories and skins is all too easy – and cumulative. Even with skilled and careful operators, ‘placing’ ingots weighing upwards of 20 tonnes, often suspended beneath a gantry crane, over a very hot furnace pit is likely to result in a bump or two. Punctures to the furnace skin or welded seam damage may not be easily visible, but air ingress can result nevertheless. Summary This modelling approach can yield practical pointers to shortening ingot preheat times by enabling more aggressive

7th International Conference on Electrodes for Primary Aluminium Smelters 25 – 27 April 2017, Reykjavik, Iceland ABOUT THE EVENT: The 7th conference will be held on 25-27 April 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland. The conference has now been firmly established as a platform for development and exchange of ideas in this important and previously neglected field of the aluminium industry. The scope of the conference has now been widened to include cathode rodding. Emphasis will be on environmental issues, increasing productivity and future prospects and challenges in the aluminium industry. More than 100 delegates gathered at the successful 6th conference in 2014 and the organisers are expecting this number to grow in 2017. CONFERENCE PROGRAMME The conference programme is currently being developed and will include international leading experts in this field. Programme announcements will be available online at EXHIBITION Alongside the conference, a dedicated tabletop exhibition will take place. The exhibition will provide a platform for companies to display their work and products in the primary aluminium industry to an audience of international experts and decision makers.

There is limited space within the exhibition, so don’t miss out; book your space today!

Effect of air ingress


Effect of recuperator Time Fig 5. Effect of using a recuperator and of air leakage on the energies supplied

heat-up schemes, without danger of overheating the ingot. It also indicates ways of reducing the energy losses of the process. Models are being used more and more as part of the process control and it is possible to envisage that in the near future these furnace models will be running online, calculating the best future settings for the furnace and providing warnings of furnace malfunction much earlier than would otherwise be recognised.  Contact 7th International

Conference on Electrodes for Primary Aluminium Smelters 25 – 27 April 2017, Reykjavik, Iceland

ABOUT THE EVENT: The 7th conference will be held on 25-27 April 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland. The conference has now been firmly established as a platform for development and exchange of ideas in this important and previously neglected field of the aluminium industry. The scope of the conference has now been widened to include cathode rodding. Emphasis will be on environmental issues, increasing productivity and future prospects and challenges in the aluminium industry. More than 100 delegates gathered at the successful 6th conference in 2014 and the organisers are expecting this number to grow in 2017. CONFERENCE PROGRAMME The conference programme is currently being developed and will include international leading experts in this field. Programme announcements will be available online at EXHIBITION Alongside the conference, a dedicated tabletop exhibition will take place. The exhibition will provide a platform for companies to display their work and products in the primary aluminium industry to an audience of international experts and decision makers.

There is limited space within the exhibition, so don’t miss out; book your space today!

The cost of a tabletop space starts from just £933 and there are sponsorship opportunities available. Contact Anne Considine today to secure your spot: Email: Tel: +44 1737 855 139

For all other enquiries, contact Birgir Jóhannesson: Email: Tel: +354-522-9174

For conference enquiries, contact Nadine Bloxsome: Email: Tel: +44 1737 855 115

We look forward to seeing you in Iceland in April 2017!

Anode_Rodding_1p_A4.indd 1

The cost of a tabletop space starts from just £933 and there are Aluminium Internationalsponsorship Today opportunities available. Contact Anne Considine today to

For all other enquiries, contact


2016 Highlights


The importance of accurate temperature measurement Richard Gagg* looks at the challenges of measuring temperatures in aluminium plants and explains why accuracy is essential.

In aluminium plants, temperature is determined by an object’s emissivity, or its ability to emit infrared energy. Emissivity varies with wavelength, alloy grades and surface conditions. Process temperatures dictate such characteristics as hardness and finish in aluminium extrusions. A very small change in emissivity can cause huge errors in temperature readings during the aluminium extrusion process. In addition, because aluminium is processed at lower temperatures than most metals, even less energy is emitted. Until now, it has been notoriously difficult for aluminium extruders to compensate for these emissivity variations, all of which have made accurate temperature measurement among the greatest challenges faced by both aluminium extrusion and rolling plants. To further complicate matters, aluminium alloys often contain small amounts of copper, manganese, silicon, magnesium and zinc to enhance their physical properties and influence product performance as well as the extrusion process. All of these, however, also affect aluminium emissivity, as does surface oxidation, texture, contamination and crystal structure. Adding further to the complexity of accurate temperature measurement is the fact that there are hundreds of aluminium alloys, and each has its own unique characteristics and emissivity. The proper identification of the alloys used and the adjustments required based on their characteristics can make the extrusion process control particularly problematic. Throughout the process, the final product may be adversely affected by even slightly higher or lower temperatures. For example, if the surface temperature is too high, the extrusion surface finish may feature markings and grooves, and, in extreme cases, potentially form

Fig 1. Extrusions begin with aluminium billets. Source: AMETEK Land

cracks. Another problem with extruding aluminium at too high a temperature is that it may not shrink to the desired physical size when cooled. And, on the inverse side, if the extrusion is even slightly too cold, the hardness of the extrusion may be affected and cause the die on the extrusion press to wear more rapidly from the additional pressure needed to push aluminium through the die. Die wear may also cause the physical size of the finished part to change. Physical dimensions and surface finishes are very important, so it is easy to understand why it is imperative to continuously measure temperature as accurately as possible to properly control flow. Likewise, it is easy to see that taking reliable temperature measurements throughout the extrusion process is vitally important. However, there are a number of challenges in terms of extrusion press conditions that need to be considered. Within the high-pressure extrusion environment, die distortion is a potential

complication that must be compensated for. Shape also factors in to determine extrusion ease, cost and size, as does scrap and tongue ratios, tolerance and finish, join flow, thermal conditions, speed, pressure and die outlet geometry. All of these factors are interrelated. And, while lower extrusion temperatures often produce shapes with high-quality surfaces and accurate dimensions, extruding at those lower temperatures requires higher pressures. Three critical areas There are three critical locations in the aluminium extrusion process where accurate temperature readings need to be taken (Fig 1). At the start of the process, when the extrusion billet is solid and typically cylindrical, with 7-inch (178mm) to 10-inch (254mm) diameters, heater performance deficiencies and a variety of billet lengths can adversely affect temperature measurements.

*AMETEK Land Global Product Manager – IR 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


Having the correct temperature at this location provides for the best surface and tolerance conditions, as well as the shortest cycle times. The ideal scenario is to have the lowest possible temperature permitted by the process, coupled with correct extrusion speed. When billet temperatures and extrusion speeds are too high, metal flow may be too fluid, filling larger voids in the die face, while resisting entry into constricted areas. (Fig 2) The extruded profile temperature at the exit of the press is the most important process parameter for optimising the efficiency and quality of the complete extrusion operation. By using a consistent and optimal operating temperature at the exit of the press, the press speed can be optimised and potential problems with soft metal, cracks and blemishes can be eliminated. Improper temperatures make precise press exit temperature management challenging, leading to die wear and product quality variations. Quality control requires verification of proper quench rates within the quench zone. When the rate is too slow, soft metal results; when it is too fast, dimensional tolerances are sacrificed. (Fig 3) Latest innovation The most effective way to optimise accurate temperature measurement at each of the three key locations is through use of infrared thermometry. Previously, however, that required using three separate pyrometers to measure the temperature at the extrusion press exit, at the extrusion quench, and at the billet stage. Aluminium producers and processors have long had a need for a multi wavelength pyrometer with three-in-one capabilities. With that in mind, AMETEK Land developed the SPOT AL EQS multimode pyrometer specifically for the aluminium industry with the ability to provide accurate measurements at each of the three key process points, while accommodating different alloys and compensating for them automatically. The SPOT AL EQS (Aluminium Extrusion, Extrusion press

Quench and Strip) pyrometer combines the advantages of high-speed digital processors for performing emissivity and temperature computations with precision optics and sensitive detectors that allow for accurate temperature measurement in a wide variety of situations. Another major advantage of the SPOT AL EQS pyrometer is that aluminium producers need to maintain only one spare thermometer, rather than three, to cover all of the various processing locations. The SPOT AL EQS pyrometer was designed for extremely easy use, providing continuous, fast, accurate data and with no ongoing adjustments or recalibration necessary. SAPA Profiles UK SAPA Profiles UK, based in Derbyshire in the United Kingdom, is among the first aluminium producers to achieve significant benefit from the use of new SPOT AL EQS pyrometers. The company has seen major efficiencies and performance benefits from its ability to accurately record the very low temperature measurements required by its customers in the highly controlled automotive industry. With SAPA Profiles UK’s process, the aluminium needs to be cooled at an exact quenching rate to achieve the highest quality metallurgical properties. When that is achieved, it gives greater confidence that the extruded profiles will have the required structural properties in subsequent testing. In the past, SAPA Profiles UK found it challenging to measure the lower end of the temperature range. It sometimes used two separate thermometers to cover the range. The SPOT AL EQS has the advantage of covering temperatures from 200 to 700°C /392 to 1292°F with one highly effective instrument. Cristiano Baiano – Senior Automation Engineer at SAPA Profiles UK, noted: “The SPOT AL EQS has given us the ability to take accurate measurements at very low temperatures, which is essential in ensuring product quality and performance. Extruded shape Flow direction

Fig 2. A rendering of the aluminium extrusion press die exit. Source: AMETEK Land Heated billet

Aluminium International Today


Fig 3. Fully integrated temperature measurement of die, billet ‘taper,’ extruded sections and quench rate ensures usable extrusions with exact dimensions and clean surfaces. Source: AMETEK Land

“We now have all of the data available our operators need to enable them to make informed decisions. An added benefit of the SPOT AL EQS was that it was very simple and straightforward to integrate into our control system,” he added. Among SAPA Profiles UK’s requirements was the ability not only to take fast and accurate temperature measurement readings in real time but also to provide vital, diagnostic information to its operators about what is happening throughout the extrusion press exit and quench processes. The company has the ability to trend data over time, via a direct digital connection to a PLC. That gives operators a much better overview of process performance, compared with using realtime readings alone. Operators also have the ability to trigger an LED sighting from the PLC and adjust the position of the quench exit instrument remotely. SPOT AL EQS pyrometer is specifically designed to work within low emissivity environments where regular pyrometers struggle to provide accurate and reliable readings. The versatile pyrometer can make a huge difference in terms of product quality and performance for companies like SAPA Profiles UK for whom accurate temperature measurement at both ends of the extrusion process is vitally important. With its high ambient temperature rating of 70°C, the SPOT AL EQS can be used in many locations without requiring additional cooling. Summary Accurate temperature measurement is a key process parameter for the aluminium extrusion industry. There are major opportunities for producers to maximise their output efficiency through effective temperature measurement. Attaining accurate temperature measurement, especially in three key process locations - the extrusion, quench zone and strip - has proven challenging. � 2016 Highlights


Continuus-Properzi and the aluminium ingots Next year Continuus-Properzi will celebrate 70 years from the date of its founding. During the last seven decades, hundreds of Properzi rod lines have been manufactured and delivered to more than 50 countries making a remarkable contribution to the cable and automotive industries. One of the most recent achievements of Continuus-Properzi in the aluminium sector is the technology and equipment for producing aluminium ingots for both primary smelters and scrap refineries. Regardless of the raw material used, for many years aluminium ingots have been produced with the traditional open top chain mould and such ingots are referred to in the market as “Open Top Ingots”. Everyone familiar with Open Top Technology is aware that some peculiarities of this technology cause, from time to time, inefficiencies such as ingot rejection due to off-size, the complexity of demoulding and, far more important, the recurring necessity of skimming the top surface of each ingot, either with a robotized system or with manual tools. Therefore, while the scientific community was spending much time and remarkable effort to improve the basic concept of the open top technology, Mr. Giulio Properzi – CEO of the company and inventor of several patented solutions - presented the market with a disruptive technology for producing ingots. Well, I have just realised that we have been discussing primary ingots, secondary ingots, open top technology and new solutions, but…what is an ingot? What purpose does it serve? If we look up the definition we will read: A solid piece of metal that has been formed into a particular shape (such as a brick) so that it is easy to handle or store [Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary] Following this idea, Giulio Properzi and his technical team focused their attention on designing a system able to produce a continuous cast bar and chop the same into ingots of repeatable length. Needless to say, the cast bar is produced exploiting the well-proven and consolidated method of continuous casting into a closed mould. The photo shows the recently patented Properzi Track and Belt Ingot Casting Machine, in Properzi’s factory, ready for shipment (Giulio Properzi near the machine). This Casting Machine transforms the molten metal into a continuous cast, straight bar of trapezoidal shape with very consistent repeatability. This cast bar is then cut into ingots of repeatable length by a Properzi rotary shear. The ingots are then cooled to a temperature of 70-80°C in order to facilitate the palletisation and strapping operations.

The ingots produced with the Properzi Track & Belt system are characterized by: � Repeatable shape and dimensions and, therefore, consistent weight � Consistent dimensions and shape of the ingot bundles � Skimming is not required � The cast bar is solidified in a closed continuous mould and therefore the concept of off-size dimensions is not applicable. The only tolerance is in the length of each ingot (720 mm ± 0.5%). � Traceability data engraved on the top surface of each ingot � No de-moulding problems � Two straps are, in general, sufficient to secure each bundle. Some customers use a maximum of three straps. Thanks to the advantages listed above, the Properzi system boasts one of the lowest OpEx available in the market to produce ingots either for primary smelters or for scrap reclamation. In particular, the non-necessity of skimming, either manually or robotized, saves 30,000 kg of metal for every 10,000 tons of aluminium processed; a very big number! The Track & Belt process is gaining wide acceptance in many countries in Europe, Asia and North America. This is substantiated by recent sales of Properzi Track & Belt equipment in Italy, Poland, Russia, China and Mexico. We have also enjoyed several repeat orders from Raffmetal (Italy). The Properzi Track & Belt Ingot Casting Lines can work either in continuous operation reaching an OEE greater than 85% or on a batch basis as requested by the refineries of aluminium scrap. The standard ingots have the following weights: � 8.5 kg � 10.0 kg � 13.6 kg � 15.0 kg By installing a very simple retrofit kit, it is also possible to produce two ingot lengths, 720 and 600mm, (and therefore two ingot weights) from the same line. The output of this machine is up to 2,000 ingots per operating hour. Recently, to show the incredible stability of the Properzi ingots we have decided to look for a new application of ingots: What about building walls? � By Carmelo Maria Brocato, Vice President of the Board, Commercial Director

2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


Yes!! Properzi ingots are so stable that you can even make walls with such ingots


Ingot w eight (8.5; 1 0; 13.6 ; 15) k g

Hourly output: up to 2,000 ingots/h · sales@ HEADQUARTERS Continuus-Properzi S.p.A. Sordio ( LO ), Italy Phone: +39. 02. 988 49 21 sales @

Properzi-pubblicita-ingots-20161028.indd 1

FRANCE DIVISION Properzi France Saint Ouen l’Aumône, France Phone: +33. 1. 34 32 34 80 info

USA BRANCH Properzi International, Inc. Sparks, Maryland 21152, USA Phone: +1. 443. 212. 4320

28/10/2016 11:10


Evolution of aluminium strip production technologies By Phil Lawlor* Aluminium is produced for many end uses such as flat rolled products, extrusions, wire and doubtless several other applications. The requirements in terms of dimensions of finished product, quality and tolerances are driven ultimately by the end users. For example, the widths for foil and can sheet are driven by the can making and foil packaging companies. It is the role of the equipment supplier to work with its customers to anticipate these trends and to develop solutions. Through its predecessor companies Primetals Technologies has played a leading role in the developments that have taken place in the history of aluminium rolling. We were the first with hydraulic AGC and one of the first with AFC. Foil rolling The history of foil rolling goes back about 100 years. The Gautschi pack rolling patent dates from 1908. In those days production was very limited – various sources quote production rates of 200kg per month by Neher and Lauber at Singen. Back then rolling speeds were down at 20m/min or so. By the 1930s speeds had crept up to the order of 300 metres per minute as in Figure 1 from an article in a 1977 issue of Light Metal Age by our then Chief Foil Mill Engineer illustrates. Nowadays strip widths are up at 2,000mm and rolling speeds of 2,000 mpm are regularly achieved on modern four high foil mills such as the Primetals Technologies foil mills at Shenhuo Aluminium, shown in Fig 2. Coil weights have also significantly increased. To achieve this level of performance on thin foil requires a very good understanding of the whole process and attention to detail in the machine design and control. And of course you need very good quality feedstock. To give just one example of how Primetals Technologies led the way in mill design just consider the mill bearings. High speeds are not possible without good quality bearings. If you look in the

literature you will find statements about mills speeds being limited to 150 feet per minute due to high power losses with the original grease filled bearings. This was overcome with the introduction first of fluid film bearings and more latterly of rolling element bearings. Two predecessor companies of Primetals Technologies both developed fluid film bearings for rolling mills. W.H.A. Robertson developed their flood bearing in 1928 and Morgan patented the Morgoil bearing in 1931. We then went to rolling element bearings as their quality

and capability improved. Now for the highest foil mill speeds, fluid film bearings (Morgoils) are again under consideration as a means of removing heat. Cold rolling The big changes here are in terms of strip width and gauge. Mills are getting wider – not only for the can makers but also for the autobody sheet market. Can makers have also significantly downgauged in recent years. These two aspects present particular challenges. The first challenge is the control of flatness on sheet of widely varying widths. This requires flatness actuators with a large effective range. Primetals Technologies has two solutions to this challenge: The Primetals Technologies six high UCM mill and the DSR mill. UCM Six High The UCM six high is a long stroke six high using parallel intermediate rolls, as illustrated in Fig 3. Fig 1. (left) The first 4 high foil mill in Europe Fig 2. Primetals High-Speed Foil Mill in China

*Senior Process Expert, Primetals Technologies Limited, UK 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today

ALUMINIUM ROLLING TECHNOLOGIES CUSTOMISED SOLUTION FOR HIGH QUALITY FLAT ROLLED PRODUCTS Whether you are looking to enhance existing mill performance for higher yield, throughput and quality, or to build a new mill to expand product portfolio for a new market or region, we provide innovative technologies to support your specific needs.

As a global supplier with a strong reference base, we offer integrated solution for Aluminium Hot, Cold and Foil Mills, combining modular technologies with process knowhow to ensure quick return on your investment.


By positioning the edge of the intermediate roll in proximity to the strip edge the workroll blending range can be maximised – thus improving flatness control. This also eliminates high localised loads within the roll stack. Recent UCM installations have been in the Far East for mills at strip widths of 2,150mm and speeds of up to 2,000mpm. The parallel rolls give a distinct advantage over contoured rolls – the peripheral roll speed is constant at all points across the strip width – this ensures a uniform strip finish – something that is of paramount importance for autobody and lithographic sheet. The DSR roll is an hollow shell backup roll that is loaded by a series of internal pads. In this way the load can be applied precisely where it is required. This roll is a development of the Sulzer NIPCO roll from the paper industry. The paper industry produces webs much wider than is common in flat rolled metal rolling and we believe that the DSR will become increasingly important as mill widths push out past three metres. Both types of Primetals Technologies cold mill feature optimised coil change equipment - to get the full benefit of high rolling speeds you also need short coil change times. The downgauging challenge is addressed with modern AGC techniques which we will describe later. Automatic flatness control Automatic flatness control is a prerequisite for high-speed foil rolling. It is commonly accepted that the introduction of flatness control thirty to forty years ago enabled an increase in rolling speeds of around 30%. Primetals Technologies were at the forefront of this development. We took out a license on the British Alcan air bearing shapemeter developed by W.J Pearson. Initially this device was used for measurement but it was the closing of the loop that revolutionised mill operation. One of the earliest shapemeter installations is shown below in Fig 4.


Fig 3. UCM Six High

High speed rolling As mill speeds increase mill vibration problems can be experienced. Primetals Technologies have developed an antichatter solution using high-performance servo valves. These valves are mounted directly onto the roll load cylinders as shown in Fig 6. Fig 4. Vidimon – First Generation Shapemeter

Incredible as it might seem the display was implemented on an oscilloscope – no flat screen computer monitors in those days! Automatic gauge control The development of modern hydraulic AGC started back in the immediate post war period. Meyer in Germany had a patent in the mid 1930’s covering a constant gap mill and the Rorschach Works had a method of controlling thickness using entry tension. Hydraulic AGC required a number of things to come together: Moog servo valves, modern electronics and some innovative engineers being but some of the elements. Davy, a predecessor company to Primetals Technologies company, worked closely with engineers at the British Iron and Steel Research Institute (BISRA) to develop hydraulic AGC and one of the first installations was at British Aluminium Falkirk on the hot tandem mill. BISRA Gaugemeter was one of the first modes developed, followed by


CECO (including plant model)

Future developments The metals industry faces many challenges as we see regularly in the financial press. The focus of investment is on improving the economics of the process. Primetals Technologies continue to work to address the challenges of the future. Our customers are interested in yield, quality and ease of operation – our current developments focus on these themes. Another key objective for our customers is to reduce work in progress. We are working to leverage our steel cooling technology, MULPIC, into the aluminium field. Interstand and slab cooling help improve rolling speeds on hot mills. Cooling technologies also help get coil temperatures down for rerolling, minimising the time a coil is held between process steps. Yield improvements focus on AFC/AGC improvements. AGC enhancements to get on gauge as quickly as possible improve yield. Techniques such as area/weight optimisation in foil rolling maximise recoveries as do taper rolling techniques for plate rolling. �

Fig 6. Anti-Chatter Servo Valve



simple feedback control and now by advanced modes such as massflow which significantly improves head and tail performance. Thin gauge rolling threading presents particular challenges and modes such as force threading have been developed – in this mode we thread in force to prevent buckled head ends and poor coil starts and then switch to gap on the fly. Enhancements such as coil eccentricity compensation have been developed by experts and have been shown to improve overall thickness performance.

Current control


^ MDrive


Plant parameters

Fig 5. Coil Eccentricity Compensation

2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


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Success story: OPTIFOIL The new Achenbach product brand has established itself worldwide exactly 10 years ago, Achenbach Buschhütten as specialists in rolling mill machinery took the strategic decision to expand its range of first-class OPTIMILL® rolling mills for non-ferrous metals and supporting process and media systems OPTIPURE® by offering also first-class foil slitting machinery. Axel Barten, President & CEO sen. of the traditional, family-owned company, at that time: “Our goal is to provide our rolling mill customers also with innovative and effective foil slitting machinery solving its often very challenging and tailor-made doubling, separating and slitting task optimally. In particular we want to remain specialists and at the same time expand our product range in order to provide maximum customer benefit.” In terms of strategy this means that Achenbach aimed to optimize the complete manufacturing process of foil products right from the start. With respect to the whole valueadded chain Achenbach is still the only company building both, rolling mill machinery as well as foil slitting machinery and offering credibly tailor-made solutions from one single source. Achenbach’s great enthusiasm for technology was one of the success factors for the intensive development work which has started in 2006. “Today, ten years later,” André Barten (CEO jun.) sums up in 2016, “it is no exaggeration to say that Achenbach as leaders in technology and quality is also being well-received by the worldwide markets of foil slitting machinery. A large number of OPTIFOIL® doublers, separators and slitters have been put into operation during this time and are running in many countries of the world at our customer’s whole satisfaction. The spectrum includes new installations as well as comprehensive modernisations, mainly focusing on aluminum but also on copper and brass products.” Among the customers are technology-leading customers like HYDRO, AMCOR, ALCOA, ASSAN, ASAS, CONSTANTIA, UACJ, KUNSHAN and another four large OPTIFOIL® machines are currently being built.   High-quality components A characteristic of OPTIFOIL® foil slitting machines is that all the individual

components are made to last. This applies, for example, to the particularly solid and robust design of the machine frame to avoid vibration or the use of high-quality bought-in parts such as drive components and slitting and winding tools. In addition there is the highly efficient utilisation of the installed drive power and an optimal interplay between all the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic modules. For the customer and machine operator, this manifests itself in benefits such as high machine speed, high process stability and the highest possible machine uptime. Innovative components Particularly demanding requirements at the customer’s company have always been Achenbach’s starting point for the development of new innovative components which shall simply improve the machines. Today, in 2016, these are precisely the unique features of the OPTIFOIL® machinery which is proven by the following examples: � The single contact roller system’s technology is one of the innovations which were created and in connection with special requirements for quality and productivity within a concrete project during the slitting process of narrowest fin stock products. Meanwhile this device has been patented and is an integral feature of all new OPTIFOIL® HeavySlit foil slitting machines. Last but not least, the great market success of the HeavySlit is based on this unique feature. � Achenbach also set standards with its self-developed process control system and initiated a continuous development project including the challenge that the latest experiences always lead into the machine control of current OPTIFOIL® projects. Thus, the OPTIFOIL® process control system is basically applied to all OPTIFOIL® machines and has both, a high recognition value and a high degree of approval among the customers. � Meanwhile and with respect to the strong demand for OPTIFOIL® separators Achenbach is the only supplier worldwide using a system of outbalanced contact rollers in all its slitter types. The combination of single driven contact rollers and a hydro-pneumatic pressure system achieves best results in all product areas starting with the compact separator for

2. Slitting machine with oil applicator and high-precision strip guidance

capacitor foil as special-purpose machine to the highly-efficient foil separator for large rolls in the packaging industry. Short down-times High process speeds are the one starting point for achieving high productivity, the short down-times in the production process of any doubler, separator or slitter, including dead-cycle times, are the other. In product fields with highly developed technology like foil slitting machines, reducing down-times plays a key role in view of the aim of the targeted increase in productivity. Reason enough for

By Dr. Gabriele Barten 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


1. State-of-the-art foil slitter for thinnest finstock material with a special solution during removal handling

3. High-performance foil separator for thinnest aluminum foils with special loading and unloading devices

Achenbach to define the main priorities of the development work here: particular emphasis is placed on entry-coil loading and finished-roll unloading. New control systems and constructional solutions speed up the handling considerably and thus lead to considerable reductions in dead-cycle times and down-times. One example is the unique removal handling of the OPTIFOILÂŽ separator and Heavyslit. An example is the automatic finished roll removal which tilts the material directly on the pallet so that it then can be removed. It is another prime example how specific customer demands lead into clever solutions and thus strengthen the good OPTIFOILÂŽ image in the market. Aluminium International Today

5. Large foil separator for 1,000 mm finished roll diameter at material widths up to 1,950 mm and fully automated material handling

4. Highly efficient foil separator for hard and soft foils with automated integration into the customer’s material logistics

Minimum conversion times In certain fields, the market for products made from aluminum foil has developed in such a way that not only the operating companies of aluminum foil slitting machines now have to work in a highly productive manner but they are increasingly having to also offer a high degree of flexibility when it comes to

production. The aim here is to minimise stocks and guarantee just-in-time delivery to downstream users. Small lots and short response times are increasingly becoming competitive advantages for operating companies. For the manufacturer of especially slitters, this in turn means that they have to be designed in such a way that they are capable of processing ever smaller production units of different foil products without significantly affecting the high level of productivity and without any loss in quality. Achenbach has accepted this challenge and developed respective technical solutions.

2016 Highlights


Integrated technology An important factor in successfully achieving the high aims is the strategy of developing technical solutions in an interdisciplinary manner, something that is rigorously pursued by Achenbach. Integrated technology means adopting a holistic approach with a twoway development process involving mechanical design and in-house process automation, and a high precision drive control geared to this development. The benefits of collaboration with Achenbach as result of the company’s extended product range are twofold:

6. (left) Widest foil separator for 1,000 mm finished roll diameter up to 2,150 mm strip width and 6 µm foil thickness

8.Foil rewinder for an optimized material logistics at the customer’s site including trimming and inspection device

Production-Spanning Know-How With the inclusion of the new foil slitting technology in its product range, Achenbach is offering productionspanning technical solutions that cover a large part of aluminum cold rolling and processing through to the different foil products. Offering everything from a single source means it is possible to design the production process in an optimal manner – from rolling through to the packing of the finished rolls after subsequent processing. This type of optimization initially affects the flow of materials by minimising the distances the materials have to travel and by utilising the means of transportation more effectively, so there is an increase in productivity. An innovative aspect, however, is that it offers the opportunity to arrange the flow of data from the whole foil production process from start to finish. This is done by the new OPTILINK® platform providing a specific hard- and software for collecting, analysing and evaluating production data by means of digital system networking of production machinery such as furnaces, rolling mills, doublers, separators, slitters or storage system. �

2016 Highlights

Machinery ‘Made in Buschhütten’ “We pursue the successful philosophy of quality identified with ‘Made in Germany’ of the OPTIMILL® rolling mill machinery also when it comes to our OPTIFOIL® Foil Slitting machinery”, says Thomas Dornseifer, Senior Sales Manager for OPTIFOIL® machines at Achenbach. “Doublers, separators and slitter are not only developed and tailor-made designed at our house, but also manufactured and installed.” With respect to precision and speed all quality-determining machine parts are produced and continuously improved in the company’s own manufacturing facility for a valid reason. Just one example is the innovation of the HeavySlit slitting cassette within the Achenbach development of microadjustment being able to correct axial movement in the µ range. The installation of these highly precise units demand the combined expertise of the highly qualified Achenbach employees. Other examples are the Achenbach OPTIFOIL® winding concepts. They demand high precision in production and assembly as they are the core components of the machine. In other

7. High-performance foil doubler with eco-friendly spraying unit and

9. Compact and flexible foil slitting machine with ultrasonic welding device for soft and hard aluminum foils

words: “When it comes to the slitting and winding of premium finished rolls quality already starts with the quality of the manufactured components”, explains OPTIFOIL® Division Manager Thomas Timmer. And he added: “We have learned to listen precisely to our customer. The best technical solutions always result out of the combination of Achenbach knowhow and our customer’s input. That in Aluminium International Today


d inline trimming device

10. a+b Foil separator with integrated pinhole detection system (PHD) and fully housed machine to prevent quality losses caused by insects or dust

turn only works in an intact team as we have it at Achenbach.” Complete assembly in the company’s own workshops and test runs using material supplied by the client ensure that the guaranteed quality can be achieved before a machine is shipped. At the same time, the time needed for commissioning at the customer’s plant is reduced, in concrete terms a comparatively smooth production start-up. Aluminium International Today

”The positive image transfer as leaders in technology and quality concerning rolling machinery to Achenbach as a premium supplier of first-class foil slitting machinery worked well”, says Dr. Gabriele Barten, responsible for Marketing and Communication at Achenbach. “This is not least due to the fact that the brand name Achenbach stands for a quality philosophy, which is of special

11. Foil slitter with repeatable knife adjustment for highest cutting quality

importance when the core components of the customer’s production are affected. More concretely that means: continuous technological development, tailor-made solutions in each individual project case, high credibility concerning all promises and a high degree of service mentality in form of reliable service and support.” �

2016 Highlights


Fig 1. Aluminium coils

Laser length and speed measurement In today’s competitive environment, the production processes in the aluminium industry have to be optimised to ensure shortest throughput times, highest output and maximum profitability. This can be achieved in no small part by improving process control through the implementation of measurement techniques. Pierre Passarge* explains In the melting plant the raw material products the thickness needs to be further aluminium is molten and cast into reduced. This is achieved in the cold rolling ingots with a length of several metres. process. Here the sheets are rolled at Depending on the length these ingots temperatures of 80°C to 170°C and speeds can weigh more than 30 tons. They are of 2000 to 5000 m/min. The thickness cut at the ends and milled on the sides to at the output of the cold rolling process remove contaminations from the casting can be as small as 0.2mm depending on the desired end product. When the process and to improve results in the aluminium strip is rolled to the following rolling processes. To required thickness, it is cut prepare for hot rolling they to the specified length and are preheated in furnaces, wound on coils for further after which they enter the processing or shipment. hot rolling process. In Throughout the whole the hot rolling mill, the production precise speed ingots are rolled from and length measurement a thickness of about is mandatory for 500mm down to less process control, output than 10mm. During the optimisation and safety. hot rolling the aluminium Fig 2. LSV & Thermo-Protective Due to the harsh bars have a temperature Housing in a Rolling Mill environment in aluminium of approximately 600°C and mills, any sensor that is going to move at speeds of up to several be used needs to be very rugged in design. m/s. Before the rolled sheets can be wound onto coils (Fig 1), they are cropped Environmental conditions include ambient at the ends and sides. To fulfil the market temperatures of more than 150°C, strong requirements for different aluminium mechanical shock and vibration, vapours,

dirt and aggressive rolling fluids (Fig 2). Accidents can even lead to open flashfire. Current measuring solutions Length and speed measurements are often obtained by drive speed or speed from an idler roll. Both are contact methods that measure the speed of the spinning roll or motor rather than the true strip speed. If the speed is measured directly on the strip, the contacting sensor can damage the surface. Moreover, both methods are susceptible to slippage, especially at the leading and trailing ends of the coil and during periods of acceleration or deceleration. Further measurement errors increase slowly over time as mechanical wear reduces, or deposits of dust and dirt increase the diameter of idler rolls. These errors cause inaccurate speed and length readings and impede process control, increase production of scrap and reduce production output. Only through costly maintenance and recalibration can these errors be reduced. All in all, profitability of the whole production is reduced.

*Strategic Product Management, Polytec GmbH 2016 Highlights

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The Laser Doppler solution Laser Doppler Velocimeters (Fig 3) are non-contact measurement systems used to measure speed and length on moving surfaces, such as aluminium bars, sheets, foils, strips and coils. The non-contact optical measurement process provides extraordinary accuracy. It can be applied in complex measurement tasks, where contact sensors can’t measure at all or only with great difficulty. Thus Laser Doppler Velocimeters replace the contact methods traditionally used for measuring length and speed in the aluminium industry. Thanks to the non-contact measurement process, slippage, scaling deposits or mechanical wear no longer affect the results of the measurement as they do when using contacting measuring techniques. Laser Surface Velocimeters (LSVs) work based on the Laser Doppler Principle and evaluate the laser light scattered back from a moving object (Fig 4). Polytec’s LSVs are based on the sophisticated heterodyne detection method. Unlike conventional noncontact methods, which measure only the absolute value of the velocity, Polytec’s velocimeters are able to detect changes in direction and even standstill conditions. The high measurement precision allows accurate detection of even the smallest motions. The LSV emits two laser beams, which overlap at a certain distance. This distance is called the working distance. The volume in which both laser beams are superimposed is called the measurement volume. In the measurement volume, the overlapping laser beams generate an interference pattern of bright and dark fringes. The distance between those fringes is called the fringe spacing Δs and is a system constant for the LSV. It depends on the wavelength λ of the laser light and the angle 2φ between the laser beams: λ Δs= 2 sin φ

Fig 3. Polytec Laser Surface Velocimeter

If a surface moves through the fringe pattern, then the intensity of the light scattered back is modulated between bright and dark. As a result of this, a photo receiver in the sensor generates an AC signal. The frequency fD of the signal is directly proportional to the velocity component of the surface in measurement direction vp: vp 2vp sin φ fD= Δs = λ Polytec LSVs work in the so-called heterodyne mode. The frequency of one of the laser beams is shifted by an offset frequency fB. Therefore the fringe spacing in the measuring volume is not stationary, but is moving at a speed corresponding to the offset frequency fB. This frequency shift allows identification of the direction of movement of the object and to measure at the velocity zero. The resulting modulation frequency fmod at the photo receiver in heterodyne mode is fB + fD for movement in one direction and fB - fD for the other direction. The modulation frequency is determined by the sensor using fast Fourier transformation and converted into the measurement value for the velocity vp. The length value is generated by integrating the velocity signal over time. Mass Flow Automatic Gauge Control (AGC) Mass Flow Automatic Gauge Control (AGC) is a technique used for many years to control strip thickness in single stand or tandem cold rolling mills. It enables tighter control of thickness by providing faster and more accurate control of the roll gap. Utilising Mass Flow AGC control techniques permit operations to achieve specified thickness requirements over a

greater percentage of the coil length, thus greatly improving the final yield. The mass flow principle (Fig 5) states that the strip thickness and speed entering the mill stand must equal the strip thickness and speed exiting the stand, while the width remains constant. Due to the high strip speeds common in aluminium rolling processes, the rolling gap needs to be adjusted very fast based on the strip speed and thickness at the entry and exit of the roll stand. Therefore these parameters need to be measured very accurately and with a fast response time. The thickness of the strip is measured by so-called C-Frames using non-contact optical or radiometric principles. LSV Laser Velocimeters installed directly in the C-Frames (Fig 6) or in rugged thermo-protective housings at the entrance and exit of the mill stands measure the speed (Fig 7). They have proven to track strip speed more accurately than contact methods because the LSV is not susceptible to slippage during mill speed transitions. The improved speed measurement is most noticeable at the beginning and end of the strip and during those periods of mill acceleration and deceleration, where significant errors can occur due to slippage of traditional contact methods. The errors in speed measurement, during these periods of transition, result in inaccurate Mass Flow calculations and thus incorrect control of the roll gap, causing variability in strip thickness. In short, less of the strip meets the specified thickness requirements. This improved strip speed measurement obtained by using LSV provides a more accurate Mass Flow Calculation and thus tighter control of gauge thickness through the AGC. Moreover, the Mass Flow – AGC, coupled with LSV enables the ability to achieve thickness specifications over a greater percentage of the strip. The result is improved quality and increased operational yield. A typical solution consists of a LSV sensor with 1000mm standoff distance and various outputs, including

Mass Flow Regulation

Fig 4. LSV Measurement Principle ϕ f+fB

Hydraulic Gap Control



Measurement volume







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Fig 5. The Massflow Principle

2016 Highlights


Profibus, Ethernet and quadrature encoder output for easy integration to mill control systems. The sensor is mounted in a thermo-protective housing to protect it against high temperatures and aggressive fluids like kerosene used in the rolling process. It’s rugged, mill duty construction, sophisticated optical configuration and advanced signal conditioning offer exceptional performance and reliability and separate the LSV from other solutions. Cut-to-length control When cutting aluminium sheets or plates according to customer requirements (Fig 8) precise length and speed measurement is essential. Using the length measurement of the LSV the cut length is controlled to be as close as possible to the required length. Cutting to short means not meeting the specified minimum length, which is unacceptable for the customer. Cutting too long means that excess material is supplied beyond the specified minimum length. As customers usually pay only for the specified minimum length any excess is given away for free. The precision of

with the strip to ensure a straight, clean cut. As the strip approaches the specified length, the cutting device accelerates to match the speed of the strip and performs the cut. After the cut the cutting device returns to its original home position while in preparation for the next cut. The LSV provides length and speed values to not only activate the shear at the appropriate length but also to synchronise its motion to match the speed of the strip. Fig 6. LSV installed in a C-Frame

Speed synchronisation on roller beds Aluminium sheets are moving on roller beds (Fig 9) between different process steps. In this situation it is important to synchronise the rotational speed of the motorised rollers accurately with the line speed of the aluminium sheets. On first glance one might think, that the rollers on which the sheets are moving determine their speed. This is however not true. Due to the tremendous forces that are applied during rolling, it is in fact the rolling process that determines the speed of the sheets. If the motorised rollers of the roller bed are not synchronised correctly with the speed of the sheets, this leads to abrasion of the aluminium surface, as slippage occurs between the rollers and sheets. Furthermore the abrasion can form deposits on the rollers and nearby machinery and cause damage to the rollers. Therefore it is necessary to measure the speed of the aluminium sheets with a LSV and adjust the roller speed accordingly.

Fig 7. LSV Measuring Points in a Rolling Stand

the length measurement therefore affects directly the profitability of the production. Furthermore the length and speed measurement of the LSV is used for controlling the cutting process itself. Two different general principles of cutting are employed. The first principle requires the strip or plate to be stopped for cutting. In this case the strip comes to a complete stop at exactly the right position to perform the cut. After the cut, the strip starts moving again and accelerates to the required line speed. To optimise throughput, the deceleration and acceleration has to be done as fast as possible. At this point contact based measurement methods are reaching their physical limits. Due to mechanical inertia they can’t follow extremely fast deceleration and acceleration processes. As a result the contact sensor slips on the surface it is measuring on. This leads to incorrect length and speed-readings. The second principle allows the strip to move at line speed during cutting. This principle is called a flying cut-off. In this case the cutting device needs to move 2016 Highlights

Fig 8. LSV controlling the aluminium cut-to length process at the Alunorf GmbH plant in Germany

Fig 9. Aluminium Sheets on Roller Bed with LSV Speed Measurement

Coil speed synchronisation and length control While the aluminium strip is wound into coils (Fig 1) the speed of the strip and the rotational speed of the coiler need to be synchronised. If the coiler is rotating too fast, the strip might be damaged or be torn apart. If the strip is faster than the coiler, it can pile up in front of the coiler, which again can damage the strip, the coiler or nearby equipment. In addition any difference between strip speed and coiler speed influences the strip tension and impedes the winding process. Therefore speed of the strip and the speed of the coiler have to be synchronised in order to optimise the winding process. The speed of the coiler can be calculated based on the rotational speed of the coiler shaft and the diameter of the coil. The strip speed needs to be measured by an LSV and integrated to the process control system for synchronisation. In addition a precise measurement of the final length of the finished coil is also obtained. ďż˝

Aluminium International Today


Transformative technology How portable X-ray fluorescence impacts the secondary aluminium industry. By Jonathan Margalit*

The global market for aluminium has never been greater than it is in 2016. Alcoa, Inc., the largest producer of aluminium in the United States, indicated in January that it expects 6% more demand for aluminium year over year from 2015 to 2016. The industrialisation of emerging markets and growth in the automotive and aerospace industries, among others, has helped drive this trend. With increasing demand for aluminium in general comes growth in the production of secondary aluminium, or aluminium produced from a mixture of scrap metal and virgin aluminium, a burgeoning market in recent years. As the technology needed to incorporate scrap into the production of aluminium has improved, the benefits to using scrap over primary aluminium have become more widely recognised. The energy and greenhouse emissions savings alone can reach 95%, allowing businesses to comply with environmental regulations – including the European Chemicals Agency’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) regulation – without experiencing any loss in quality. One leader in aluminium production, Novelis, has said that it plans to incorporate 80% recycled content into its production by 2020, an important signal that the industry is, indeed, evolving. The challenge facing secondary aluminium producers is to become more efficient in meeting this growing demand while ensuring the high quality of oftenunknown materials in post-consumer scrap. Compared to the clean, neatly packaged and well-defined alumina raw material that is most familiar to manufacturers, post-consumer scrap brings new variables into the equation. The exact chemical composition of scrap,

and with it the existence of residual or hazardous elements, may not be immediately known and, as a result, end-product quality, process integrity, safety and regulatory compliance are jeopardised. Portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology has emerged as a solution for secondary aluminium producers who require quick and accurate analysis of the elemental composition of post-consumer scrap. Inside the technology Technological breakthroughs in XRF spectroscopy have allowed for the design of smarter, faster and – perhaps most beneficial for any professional dealing with scrap – smaller instrumentation. The portability factor in the leading instruments on the market today, such as the Thermo Scientific Niton XL5 analyser, allows users to go into the yard to identify and sort metal without the need to budget time to transport the material to a lab for identification. Smaller and lightweight instruments like these play a significant role in reducing user fatigue; field personnel can carry such a device through a full day of sorting at multiple scrap sites without the risk of physical burden. Further, these instruments are easy to operate, as they can identify metal alloy grade and chemistry by simply pointing and shooting, without user interpretation. XRF technology can detect a wide range of elements, including aluminium and its

major alloying elements. XRF analysers emit low radiation X-rays that are directed onto the sample. These X-rays interact with the atoms in the sample and induce them to emit secondary, or fluorescence, X-rays. The energy and wavelengths of these secondary X-rays are characteristic and unique for each and every element on the periodic table and therefore serve as a “fingerprint” for the element. The XRF analyser reads the different “fingerprints” in a sample and can then identify and quantify the elements of interest, as well as name the correct alloy grade. The accuracy of XRF technology is another appealing feature for scrap yard users and secondary aluminium producers. Accurate identification of the material composition of scrap metal can help users reduce business risks, streamline operational processes and maximise profits. In order to more fully understand the benefits of XRF technology to the secondary aluminium industry, let’s look at two specific industry applications of handheld XRF analysers – in scrap yards and in secondary aluminium manufacturing facilities. Maximising XRF in scrap yards One of the main challenges facing scrap yard operators and owners is accurately identifying the alloy grade and elemental composition of a sample. The fact that a given lot of scrap has originated from the same field of use (for example, the automotive industry) does not guarantee that the grade contents are similar. To illustrate this point, the alloy 7029

*Global Marketing Manager, portable analytical instruments, Thermo Fisher Scientific Photos courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


(specified for bumpers) contains a higher level of zinc (Zn), while the alloy 2036 (for auto panels) contains higher copper (Cu) levels. Aluminium manufacturers who purchase scrap for their secondary aluminium production must meet stringent compositional requirements to ensure end product quality as well as a smooth manufacturing process. Therefore, the need to correctly identify the alloy grade and rapidly analyse its chemical composition has cascaded down the supply chain to the scrap yards, where users need portable instrumentation to identify any contaminants that result from the metals recycling process. Handheld XRF analysers give scrap yard owners a competitive advantage by reducing their business risks and maximising their profitability. Scrap yard owners can be certain that they are delivering correctly identified grades to secondary aluminium smelting operations. This is important, as different grades have different prices as well as different properties; small variations in composition can significantly impact both. Delivering misidentified grades could result in a negative outcome in that the secondary aluminium manufacturer who is purchasing scrap may downgrade the load, refuse the load entirely or refuse to continue to do business with the scrap yard. The ability to accurately analyse the scrap prior to delivery of the load will significantly reduce the risks of losing business and money. For example, aerospace alloys such as 2014, 2024, 7055 and 7449 are each intended for specific parts of the plane and are not interchangeable. Handheld XRF analysers can easily separate these grades. In another example, alloys 6061 and 6063 are some of the most popular aluminium alloys used in a wide variety of applications. Considering the price differential of these alloys, one could easily see the profit potential in properly segregating these alloys when processing several thousand pounds of mixed material.

can have a direct impact on any of these properties. For example, the major alloying elements in 6061 and 6063 are magnesium (Mg) and silicon (Si) and their maximum Zn content must be kept below 0.25% and 0.1%, respectively. With an XRF handheld analyser, it is possible to identify and quickly remove any scrap containing Zn, such as alloys from the 7000 series, from the melt, preventing downtime due to furnace contamination.

XRF technology, when applied to secondary aluminium manufacturers, can maximise margins and help recover the value “locked up” in scrap metal. A secondary aluminium smelter may vary the ratios of feed grades used to produce a final alloy. Handheld XRF analysers can help an operator select the lowest cost grade combination, thus maximising profits. Recovering the “locked up” value of scrap metal means that by knowing the quantity and type of trace elements, smelters can wisely build that knowledge into the logistics of raw material purchasing and eliminate the need to purchase expensive additives. Conclusion As we continue to witness the increasing role of scrap in the production of aluminium, scrap yard users and secondary aluminium producers alike will have a growing need for technology that will make their operations more efficient and more profitable, without sacrificing quality. Portable XRF analysers offer field personnel an opportunity to achieve all three objectives – up and down the secondary aluminium industry’s supply chain. The long-term payoff can be substantial for those operations that have the foresight to adopt technological innovation early. �

Benefits to secondary aluminium manufacturers The main challenge for secondary aluminium operations is to be able to closely and accurately monitor the composition of the feed material, which includes aluminium scrap. The chemical composition of the feed material can have a critical impact on the properties of the melt (viscosity, solubility, melting temperature), integrity and longevity of the furnace, end-product specifications, plant emissions, downtime, and safety of the operating personnel. Preventing contaminants from entering the melt 2016 Highlights

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Shaping the future

Welding a prototype bumper (Constellium’s Gottmadingen facility)

Constellium is leading the way in product development for the automotive sector with a new University Technology Center in the UK. Nadine Bloxsome* went to the launch of this and the Advanced Metal Casting Centre at Brunel University London to find out more. The Constellium University Technology Center (UTC) is a joint project with Brunel University London, which aims to bridge the gap between fundamental research and series production. Working closely with Constellium’s C-TEC technology centre and the company’s Automotive Structures engineers, the UTC will develop the products, processes and engineering talent of the future. A key feature of its work will be to rapid prototype extruded profiles and components, which will then be reproduced at Constellium’s manufacturing sites. Along with expert staff, the UTC will also have a powerful armory of hardware to deliver on its promise of advanced technology and shorter times to market. “It’s totally unique in our industry,” says Paul Warton, President of the Automotive Structures & Industry business unit. “As well as being a centre of competence, it is also a development centre for life-size prototyping on real equipment. Developing solutions on life-size equipment can be

done in our plants, but you’re interfering with production flow and it’s always rushed. This way, however, it becomes a

Stirring molten aluminium for homogeneous composition before DC casting (Constellium University Technology Center)

‘copy and paste’ for the production plant. A prototype bumper system, for example, normally takes three months; with UTC, it can be six weeks. And that’s key for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who are often pressed for time and want to move quickly to series production.” The UTC will be housed in two buildings: Advanced Metal Casting Centre (AMCC), which has received a £9.5m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and Advanced Metal Processing Center (AMPC), which was subsequently awarded £18m by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The UTC will focus on three areas: New alloys that will far exceed industry benchmarks for strength and lightweighting; extrusion process and product development; and increasing the sustainability of products and processes through enhanced recycling. In terms of organisation, each development will be tied to a specified research project and where applicable driven to a customer

*Editor, Aluminium International Today 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


Billet DC caster preparation before pouring liquid metal into the mould (Constellium University Technology Center)

project, with each customer project linked to a specific Constellium plant for series production. AMCC This centre will feature a fully integrated Direct Chill casting and extrusion laboratory with a 1,600-ton extrusion press, along with specially designed equipment from Constellium, meaning full-sized profiles can be prototyped for testing. What’s more, the UTC will be able to produce alloy material in small amounts of half a ton or less, thereby offering an inventory size more appropriate for testing new alloys. JLR will meanwhile provide shape-casting equipment to produce its own high-integrity cast components. While Constellium and JLR are codirectors of the AMCC with Brunel University London, Constellium will carry out work for a number of important automotive OEMs through its University Technology Center.

Roll bending a prototype bumper beam (Constellium’s Gottmadingen facility)

Aluminium International Today

Encouraging new talent UTC is not just about technology and equipment; it is also about people. Constellium will be funding Research Fellow programmes for the centre, with the clear intention of taking on doctoral students and research fellows for the advanced design programmes, while operational personnel will also work and visit the UTC as part of the research programs and industrial handover. “What we are doing here is working hand-in-hand with academia and industry,” says Martin Jarrett, Constellium Technical Director for the UTC. “The aim is to bring solutions to our end customers and OEMs in an efficient way, but at the same time, develop our people to be able to support that technology. “We have very experienced people involved with high levels of expertise who the students can work with and benefit from.”

Hardness measurement on an aluminium extrusion (Constellium’s Gottmadingen facility)

Keeping aluminium strong While the UK primary aluminium industry is facing uncertain times, innovation is key in developing new technologies and value-added products. “I think what we will see is technologies such as bending, fabrication and joining spinning out into the use of aluminium products,” says Martin. “The growth is in value-added production, which creates more jobs with the optimal solution being located close to the OEMs. We have to be close to the OEMs who are using these solutions,” adds Paul. “I think it’s a great achievement and I am very proud to play a part,” says Martin. “The great thing is the centre is developing knowledge and solutions for local industry, which will impact the whole aluminium value chain.” � Contact

Industrial extrusion tooling at the press line (Constellium’s Singen facility)

2016 Highlights


Stirring solutions A critical review of aluminium furnace stirring technologies with a focus on electromagnetic stirring. By Rob Morello*

Over the past 15 years the industry has witnessed a proliferation within the field of stirring technology for melting and holding furnaces. This increase in available technology has culminated in a situation where it is sometimes difficult to see ‘the wood for the trees’ when selecting the appropriate technology for your furnace. Fifteen years ago the issue was – Do you need to stir a furnace rather than what to stir it with; advances in stirrer technology however has led to a different way of thinking in the present day. This editorial will examine why melting furnaces need to be continually stirred and then look at why one Electromagnetic Stirrer is not necessarily the same as the next. ALTEK has been ever present during the evolution of furnace stirrer technology and as a result has been involved with all types of pumping or stirring technology (Metallic graphite pumps, EMP, mains frequency linear induction technology, low frequency air cooled linear induction and also Permanent Magnet stirring and pumping technology. In 2004, ALTEK undertook a detailed study of Permanent Magnet stirring and pumping technology in association with the Institute of Physics in Latvia.

Qrad gas

Qrad wall

Why continually stir a furnace? Why choose an electromagnetic stirrer? A furnace should be stirred to assist the melting of scrap within an aluminium melting furnace. When considering what the electromagnetic stirrer is doing in terms of assisting the melting of scrap within an aluminium melting furnace, it is sometimes easier to relate it to the ‘Iceberg’ with the submerged scrap looking very much like this image.

Fig 1. Picture showing the ‘Iceberg’ effect of submerged scrap

If the scrap never became submerged within the aluminium bath then there would be no need to stir the metal, as radiated heat to the exposed scrap is the most efficient mode of heat transfer. The exposed scrap pile at the beginning of a melting cycle is ‘melted’ by means of the well-known radiated heat transfer

Qbath refl

(Q) effect from the burner and the hot refractory (T4 effect). Qtot = Qrad_gas + Qrad_wall If we take the typical dry hearth melting furnace represented in Figs 2 and 3, you can see the effect of the scrap pile from its initial charge, reducing as the liquid heel develops and part of the scrap is submerged. In some furnace operations this is done through successive charges (laying scrap on the sill to pre-heat and then push into the bath as it develops (typical of many extrusion melting furnaces for example). This submerged part of the scrap pile has a colder outer boundary layer that insulates the scrap from the warmer bath (heel). The aluminium bath has its hottest aluminium at its surface (due to the heating effect of the combustion space above it) and becomes colder the lower you go in the bath. Without stirring, the submerged scrap would take a very long time to melt down as it relies on conduction and convection heat transfer. Stirring the bath breaks this limitation and the heat transfer is greatly increased by convection effects. This is valid if the stirrer technology in place generates a horizontal flow pattern. The EM stirrer uniquely utilises the relatively high density and low

Qrad gas Step 1

Qbath absorb

Conduction + convection

Step 2

Qrad total = Qrad gas + Qrad wall Qrad total = Qbath absorbed + Qrad reflected

Fig 2. Furnace heat transfer diagram


Fig 3. Generation of a liquid heel on a dry hearth melting furnace

*Technical Sales Engineer & Marketing Manager 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today



740 720 700 680 660

350 0



150 Seconds T’bas°C






Fig 4. Graph showing the rate of temperature homogeneity between the top and bottom of the bath in a 65T melting furnace

viscosity of aluminium to generate lots of eddy currents in the melt. This creates a turbulent flow mixing the melt also in the vertical direction. This strong ‘mixing’ has several positive benefits: 1. The heat penetration depth into the aluminium bath is increased and consequently the melting performance will be improved. 2. The bath surface is ‘cooled’ down increasing the temperature difference between melt and roof and the heat-pick up (Stefan Bolzman equation) leading to a better utilisation of the energy from the burners. 3. In addition, this colder bath surface is less prone to oxidation, thus reducing dross generation. To achieve these benefits, the following conditions must be met: 1. There must be liquid, which can be stirred. 2. The liquid must be super-heated, otherwise it cannot melt other metal. 3. The stirrer must not be blocked by solid metal. With the stirrer the thermal stratification differences inside the aluminium bath are usually very quickly equalised as figure 4 shows correctly (some graphs published show an equal trend of the lower and upper temperatures which is not correct). Can you have any stirrer on any furnace? Clearly the furnace type is an important factor in determining which stirrers are appropriate for an application. A round top charge furnace with a basement would utilise any of the bottom mounted stirrers whether tilting or static, if tilting furnace certain systems would not be appropriate from an installation or practical operational point of view. Stationary furnaces with no basement would require side stirring and there are a variety of products available for that application. It is important to look at the stirring pattern, the starting heel requirement, the ability to control in the cycle at different intensities, space availability around the outside walls of the furnace, clearance and access Aluminium International Today

requirements for maintenance and installation and impact zone of the magnetic field. Side well furnaces can benefit from conventional pumps and also allow for side stirring technology to be applied quite successfully. Again, location of the stirrer to ensure correct flow pattern to maximise impact on melting the scrap and mixing the bath for homogeneity, are important factors to consider along with many identified in the previous paragraph. Twin and Three chamber furnaces tend to utilise pumps for flow between the two chambers, but stirrers have also been used to aid further homogeneity through the whole bath depth to ensure effective heat flux in the metal being transferred by the pumps. It is a common misconception within the industry that all stirrers have the same stirring pattern in the furnace. This is an incorrect assumption as the flow patterns have significant variations. A water cooled stirrer has quite a different flow pattern in the bath compared to air cooled stirring technology due to the design of the coil and the method of driving the current to the coil. Permanent Magnet stirrers also have quite different flow patterns as these are revolving drums that have a continual and fixed magnetic flux intensity.

scrap, alloy additions or simply mixing the metal to gain homogeneity. Each device can deliver quite a different result. Linear flow as depicted in the Figures below is far more effective at melting scrap and by carrying the frequency of the applied 2 or 3 phase current to the inductor and also the current, allows for both the speed of flow and the intensity of flow to be varied during the cycle. Type of Stirrers � Water Cooled Induction Stirrer (Low Frequency 0.2 to 2Hz) � Air Cooled Induction Stirrer (Low Frequency 0.2 – 2Hz) � Water Cooled Induction Stirrer (Mains Frequency – 50/60Hz) � Electromagnetic Pump (Mains Frequency – 50/60Hz) � Permanent Magnet Stirrer

Why is the flow pattern within the furnace important? The flow pattern is important when aiming to achieve certain objectives within the furnace, whether this be for melting

The big difference in the induction stirring units is their operational frequency. For the inductor’s magnetic flux field to penetrate the full refractory thickness of a standard furnace and the physical stainless steel plate, this needs to be a low frequency type device (air or water cooled). These devices can penetrate refractory/steel combined thicknesses in excess of 700mm and still deliver a powerful magnetic field in the aluminium bath to which there are many examples of this around the world. The higher frequency devices will have to work through much thinner refractory thickness (in some cases only a ceramic plate of 50mm thickness), to enable full penetration of the magnetic flux field into the bath. This clearly then gives furnace safety and overall integrity potential issues. The permanent magnetic field strength is defined by the type of permanent magnets that are installed onto the rotating drum. There are a variety of permanent magnets commercially available in the market and choice of correct magnets is an important consideration as this will determine both

Fig 5. ALTEK bottom mounted Electro Magnetic Stirrer

Fig 6. ALTEK side mounted Electromagnetic Stirrer

2016 Highlights


Velocity streamline 1.03

Velocity 1.641

Velocity streamline 1.03












1.114 2.227 3.341 4.454 (m)

Fig 7. Typical linear flow pattern on an ALTEK bottom mounted linear electromagnetic inductor




[m s -1]

Safety considerations One of the main reasons the industry is beginning to turn towards air cooled electromagnetic stirring are issues surrounding safety and maintenance. Removing the water cooling requirement of conventional stirrers from the basement area under a furnace or next to a furnace has provided operators with the peace of mind if there was ever a furnace break or leak. Water cooling systems are also prone to leaks and build-up of deposits in the pipes which, should failure occur, causes major repair work and downtime. Operations that have traditionally used water cooled stirrers have now moved over to air cooled stirrer technology. Installation considerations It is important to establish the location relative to what you are trying to achieve in the above and what space is available. Common aspects to consider on the different technologies are: � Can I vary the flux intensity during the cycle to suit the particular part of the cycle time to gain maximum efficiency from my investment on my particular application. Permanent Magnet technology is based on a fixed array of magnets located on a 2016 Highlights



3.000 (m) 1.500

[m s -1]

Fig 8. Typical linear flow pattern on an ALTEK side mounted electromagnetic inductor

Fig 9. ALTEK’s bottom mounted TYPE 700 furnace to work through 750mm refractory floor

the strength of the magnetic flux field but also the operating temperatures that the device can withstand without irreversible magnetic field decay.

3.000 (m) 1.500


0.006 [m s -1]

Fig 10. ALTEK’s TYPE 500 stirrer in tunnel beneath multiple furnace operation

drum so has a permanent field that cannot be varied or tuned. � Can I increase the frequency of the field and thereby the speed of flow in the furnace. � Will the magnetic flux field decay or change over time or with temperature. � Will temperature have an effect on the stirrer. � Safety considerations around the stirrer (particularly side stirrer installations) due to the magnetic field. There is a natural decay of the EM field around linear inductors as they are closed type inductors unlike the ‘open’ permanent field in a PM device which will interact with all objects surrounding it. � Cooling systems. How to organise and manage and what is the impact on the stirrer of any unforeseen high temperature events on the life or construction (copper, insulation, magnets/magnetism etc). � Do you need the stirrer to work on multiple furnaces? When choosing a correct location for the stirrer it is important to look at the stirring pattern required within the furnace, the type of furnace operation (dry hearth or heeled), ultimate bath depth, type of scrap to be charged and where it is charged, the ability to control in the cycle at different stirring intensities, space availability around the outside walls of the furnace (for side mount type), or available space in the basement, clearance and access requirements for maintenance etc.

Operating cost considerations There can sometimes be a misapprehension about energy usage in linear electromagnetic stirrers being very high and having very high electrical operating costs as a consequence compared to Permanent Magnet Stirrers for example. This is true of the water cooled stirrers which do use more electrical energy than the modern air cooled stirrers and as a typical rule of thumb, the electrical energy cost for the ALTEK stirrer per cycle is about Euro 10 to Euro 15 per furnace melt cycle, so irrelevant in the scheme of the savings that are obtained per furnace cycle with such technology. Recent data from some of ALTEK‘s installations has shown energy savings (gas) of between 10 and 15% per cycle. Concluding thoughts Modern low energy air cooled linear induction stirrer technology provides a versatile device for stirring almost all types of aluminium melting or holding furnace. With operating energy costs almost negligible, in the context of the energy savings attainable, and the flexible ‘in cycle’ controllability of stirring speed, magnetic flux and power, these stirrers provide a very efficient tool for the aluminium casthouse to increase productivity and efficiency. With the low energy costs, associated safety benefits of not having water under the basement of a furnace, and powerful circulation, understandably the take up in this technology is very strong.� Aluminium International Today


Aluminium technology sorted Automated sorting technology is making aluminium recycling worthwhile. By Frank van de Winkel* The production of aluminium metal has increased over the past decades and observers expect this upward trend to continue. Offering an excellent combination of high strength, formability and corrosion resistance, aluminium is an especially attractive proposition for transport applications – just considering light-vehicle aluminium content alone, the future demand is anticipated to approach almost 35 billion lbs over the next 10 years. This will make its deployment in light vehicles the primary application for aluminium, with 6xxx series alloys comprising 70% of this projected requirement1. The extraction of primary aluminium is not only laborious and therefore energy consuming, but as we know primary resources are limited. Enhancing the aluminium recycling process plays an instrumental role. Already today it is possible for smelters to gain new and cheaper sources of material by separating aluminium alloys and heavy metals with high precision, so that aluminium purities of 98-99% can be achieved.

Other heavy metals 9.0%

Residue 2.1%

Aluminium wrought 12.3%

Brass 7.3%

Copper 9.1%

Cast aluminium 60.2%

Example of composition of zorba (unsorted), grain size of 10-30mm 1



Recycling challenges Recycling aluminium presents some specific challenges: � Aluminium bonds tightly with other elements � Alloying elements cannot be removed by metallurgical processing � The only viable way of influencing the composition of molten (secondary) aluminium is dilution with primary aluminium and/or adding alloying elements � Wrought alloys and cast alloys differ significantly in their composition � Copper, iron, zinc, manganese and silicon are the main alloying elements � Mixed fractions can only be recycled in to cast alloys � Within wrought alloys, some specific aluminium alloys will need to be separated

Firstly, it is essential to recycle wroughtand cast aluminium alloys separately.

1 Feeding of unsorted material 2 X-ray camera 3 X-ray source 4

4 Separation chamber

Today, these scrap sources are often collected as a mixed product, or with minimal separation. So where segregation cannot be achieved, mixed aluminium fractions can only be downcycled to produce materials of lower quality and reduced functionality. Today, many of these scrap sources are often mixed when collected, or only separated to a limited extent. However, sorting technologies/methods are mandatory where the eventual aim is to generate a “high grade” recycling output. Currently, any mixed aluminium scrap (where different grades are not separated) poses certain challenges to gaining full value from any reuse of the material: � Any contamination with alloys

containing copper, zinc and iron limits the prospects for recycling to casting processes � Within wrought-aluminium scrap, any event contamination with wrought alloys containing zinc or copper makes recycling difficult After separation of aluminium and heavy metals, the aluminium fractions are then recycled or sold to a processor. Methods of sorting Of the various methods of sorting aluminium scrap, the primary techniques most frequently called upon include hand sorting – not covered here, dense media separation, and sensor-based sorting.

*Business Development Manager Metals at TOMRA Sorting Recycling Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


Dense media separation Dense media processing is used to separate metals with different densities, for instance, to separate aluminium from other non-ferrous metals. This process requires large amounts of water and other additives, and both the procedure itself, and the subsequent disposal of the waste effluent generated, place an additional burden on the environment. Clearly, the process can only be used to differentiate materials with different densities – for example, to remove copper, brass, zinc or lead from aluminium – and thus no alloy separation is possible. The two most common dense medias used as additives are ferro-silicon (FeSi) and magnetite (Fe3O4) which has to be kept suspended in water during the separation process. These expensive facilitators are consumed during the sorting process, and the constant replenishment of such costly components essential to waterbased separation presents some technical challenges. The dense media mixture must be carefully monitored and managed at all times: � To prevent settlement and keep the additives in suspension; � To constantly maintain all pipes, pumps, etc. in good working order; � To avoid the formation of systemblocking ‘plugs’; � To ensure the water does not freeze (in winter); � To ensure the liquid does not foam, etc. The potential investment required to install the type of sink-float (dense media separation) processing equipment would be substantial. Sensor-based sorting Sensor-based sorting can be used for a broad variety of applications because sensors can be deployed to perform different sorting tasks, thus extending the possible menu options. This lowmaintenance sorting technology is always on standby and combines superior precision with high throughputs. In use, sensor technology requires no densemedia processing or additives and can effect differentiated sorting by density 2016 Highlights

and colour, and even alloys. The clean procedures avoid the risk of pollution by hazardous substances and employ stable technologies which have been thoroughly developed over the last 20 years. In addition, the entire sorting process has a built-in flexibility which allows for adjustments to meet the varied requirements of different tasks and contexts, including the fine-tuning of processes on location. Sensor-based sorting within the aluminium industry Over the last three years, the sorting of different secondary aluminium streams has become ever more important. In response, TOMRA Sorting has conducted its own research and invested a significant amount of resources in order to develop sorting solutions for market requirements. This continuing programme of innovation has resulted in significant success in the aluminium recycling/sorting sector. With more 60 units sold into the worldwide aluminium recycling industry – in Europe, Asia and North America – TOMRA Sorting has become one of the leading suppliers of sorting units for the separation of different scrap sources such as: - Zorba from ELV recycling - Taint Tabor from (old) sheet scrap - Extrusion profile scrap (for example, from recycled windows) - Used beverage can scrap - Production scrap/new scrap from manufacturing waste Sorting applications The following descriptions of sorting applications are based on three different scrap sources, and thus respectively designated: Zorba, Taint Tabor/Extrusions and UBCs. Zorba As described by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), zorba is a mixed fraction consisting of a combination of non-ferrous metals. Shredded zorba will contain mostly aluminium – though in a variety of different grades – and also quantities of zinc, tin, stainless steel, nickel, magnesium, lead and copper. X-Ray Transmission (XRT) is used to

sort metals at high capacity based on their atomic density, irrespective of their surface profile and material thickness. It is commonly used to create a twitch product (fragmented aluminium scrap produced by shredding) from ELVs, and to remove heavy metals from the zorba fraction as well as zinc, copper and ferrous material containing alloyed aluminium. Utilising an XRT-based system, zorba can be easily converted into a furnace-ready aluminium. As shown at point (1) above, a preprocessed input stream, which consists of a single layer of unsorted material, is carried along a conveyor belt at high speed. The waiting sensor equipment consists of an X-ray camera (2) plus an X-ray generator (3). This DUOLINE twin-sensor system sends an X-ray stream across the material to be separated, and the resultant data is captured and interpreted by two independently configured sensors working in parallel. High-speed data processing instantly determines the precise location, shape, atomic density, conductivity and other properties of each object. As a result, the material can be reliably sorted as it enters the separation chamber at (4), with air jets separating and removing the impurities whilst the cleaned aluminium fractions are fed into a bunker. Maximising the efficiency of such sensorbased sorting is primarily a matter of efficient pre-processing of the waste stream material. In the above example, magnetic separation would be used to remove ferrous metal, as well as a screening process to split the material into pre-determined grain sizes, eddy-current separation to extract non-ferrous metal, plus the careful removal of all lighter material2. What a process-extension might look like: Adding in extension processes after XRTbased sorting, it becomes possible to separate and remove free heavy metals (zinc, copper etc.), and also some alloyed aluminium products (for example, cast aluminium containing copper, iron or zinc). Using sensor-based technologies enables rapid processing with a high throughput, and produces a uniform output of clean, cast-rich secondary aluminium fraction. Aluminium International Today




ALUMINUM recycling is worthwhile: with up to 95% of energy savings when compared to the laborious extraction of primary aluminum, smelters gain new and cheaper sources of material by separating aluminum alloys and heavy metals with high precision, so that aluminum purities of 98-99% can be achieved.


TSRE_Aluminium International Today_ALU_185x128mm+3_GB_161111.indd 1

What is Industry 4.0 and how can it assist the global steel industry in its quest for greater efficiencies? Two questions, among many others, that will be answered by the experts at the Future Steel Forum in Warsaw in June 2017. For more details contact: Paul Rossage, International Sales Manager +44 (0) 1737 855 116 See full details online at Aluminium International Today

14.11.2016 15:07:25


Finished aluminium product after XRT processing After the separation of aluminium and heavy metals, the aluminium fraction is then suitable for recycling and ready to be sold on to a processor. Sorting the remaining fractions After the aluminium fraction has been separated, the remaining heavy metal fraction presents further commercially viable sorting opportunities. The appropriate sorting technologies to introduce for these later phases include sorting based on colour detection, or elemental detection using X-ray fluorescence technology to separate the fraction further. As shown in the ‘process-extension’ diagram, sorting the remaining fractions will yield further quantities of copper, brass, grey metals, zinc fractions and printed-circuit-board fractions. Sorting units can be combined in automated batch operations to deploy machine configurations at optimal levels of efficiency, thus ensuring maximum operational benefits are achieved from any plant investment. Taint tabor and extrusion profiles The ISRI specification defines taint tabor thus: ‘Taint tabor shall consist of clean old alloy aluminium sheet of two or more alloys, free of foil, venetian blinds, castings, hair wire, screen wire, food or beverage containers, radiator shells, airplane sheet, bottle caps, plastic, dirt, and other non-metallic items. Oil and grease not to total more than 1%. Up to 10% Tale permitted3.’ The same XRT equipment can be used for sorting this material, but some extra challenges have to be considered. Firstly, taint tabor is not only contaminated with free heavy metals like copper, brass and zinc, but is also quite likely to be contaminated with heavymetal-containing wrought alloys too. This additional complication essentially means that the content of zinc, copper and ferrous material present in the scrap must be reduced before the product can be brought up to the standard required for reuse in the production of wrought aluminium alloys. The solution to this problem is to employ a more-sophisticated version of the XRT system which is able to detect and eject the following materials from the scrap input stream: � free heavy metals � (“2-thousand”) coppercontaining aluminium wrought alloys � (“7-thousand”) zinccontaining aluminium wrought alloys As a result, the process outputs 2016 Highlights

Extension shredder process

Zorba from shredder process*

Heavy metal, aluminium compound



Ferrous aluminium compound


Heavy metal

COMBISENSE and/or X-TRACT Residues

Batch option

Manual control

Finished aluminium product

Printed circuit boards**



Grey metals/ zinc**

* in different grain sizes; recommended grain sizes: 10-30mm, 30-50mm, 50-100mm ** optional manual check Source: TOMRA Sorting



Al Aluminium


Si Silicon


Fe Iron


Cu Copper


Zn Zinc




Melt analysis of aluminium after X-tract. Input material: aluminium wrought material like window profiles, etc. results without burn-off and loss. Source: TOMRA Sorting

aluminium fractions of a very high purity where the residual copper content will typically be lower than 0.2%, and where zinc traces are below 0.1%. A full output melt analysis is given as an example in the table below: Problem solving Certain kinds of scrap can present specific problems which must be overcome during the sorting phase. With painted extrusion profiles for instance, some paints contain hazardous substances which could compromise any subsequent recycling process. Using a variety of sensors, TOMRA Sorting equipment can safely identify and eject painted aluminium profiles from the scrap stream, thereby adding value to the residual fractions which would otherwise be lost. Similar challenges and process apply for UCBs. Conclusion More use of scrap, less energy to achieve planned outcomes while reducing rawmaterial costs In the past, recycling was hampered by limited sorting possibilities. Only “downcycling” was really viable, and this mostly failed to make optimum use of much of the high-grade scrap which was invariably downgraded via the process. New sensor-based sorting technologies offer enhanced opportunities to sort

scrap into different grades whilst also removing unwanted content. This facility extends the options for the usage of scrap/ secondary aluminium: Higher volumes of aluminium scrap can be recovered and reused, new processes also make it possible to use separated secondary material – once a ‘lost’ resource, and substantial energy savings reduce costs, increase profit margins and contribute to a “green” model which is responsible and sustainable. Sensor-based sorting will continue to refine and develop alloy-sorting techniques, unlocking even more of the intrinsic value and usage opportunities afforded by scrap and secondary sources. Customers can now make more use of scrap, need less energy to achieve their planned outcomes, and will be able to reduce their raw-material costs – all of which will help them to promote an even ‘greener’ image. For aluminium recyclers, the projected automotive-industry demand for aluminium has to be given serious consideration. One clear implication is that the conversion of aluminium-rich material into a furnace-ready product supplied to the secondary market constitutes a very attractive option. However, for many present operators, an audit of their current facilities will show they need to purchase new sorting technologies in order to access this profitable opportunity. � References:

1. Ducker Worldwide, 2014. ‘2015 North American Light Vehicle Aluminum Content Study’, June 2014, commissioned by The Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG). 2. TOMRA Sorting, 2012. ´Non-ferrous metal segment guide´. 3. Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc., 2015. ‘Scrap Specifications Circular, 2015’. Aluminium International Today


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By Gary Yogan* Over the past 50 years, growth of the aluminium flat rolled product (FRP) industry has been heavily fueled by the adoption of the aluminium beverage can. Major global and domestic brands have used the aluminium can as the packaging container of choice for several decades and that trend shows no signs of stopping. With a steady global growth projection of four to five percent in 2016, aluminium beverage can sheet is still king in the FRP marketplace and remains a key strategic business for Novelis. As the only global producer and recycler of aluminium beverage can sheet with operations in Asia, Europe, South America and North America, Novelis is well positioned to capture the growing global demand from beverage brands and canmakers seeking highly recyclable, adaptable, lightweight and protective packaging options. Aluminium offering a material difference Aluminium cans and bottles continue to be a competitive advantage for companies catering to consumers’ desires for an easy to use, convenient, lightweight and durable packaging. Compared to other packaging materials such as plastic and glass, aluminium allows beverages to stay fresher longer and be highly portable for consumers’ on-the-go occasions, including concerts, picnics, boating and other outdoor and water-related activities. As an added benefit, aluminium cans are shatter proof, provide a superior barrier to light, cool faster, stay cold longer and are 100% recyclable. Formability and adaptability enabling new designs Beyond aluminium’s inherent material qualities, advances in innovation and technology have enabled new packaging shapes and forms including “slim” or smaller serving can sizes, as well as the aluminium bottle. Some beverage brands are seeing up to double-digit increases in the growth of their new, smaller serving sizes or alternatively shaped cans. Beyond spatial interest, new can and bottle shapes also allow for a larger canvas for beverage branding, with 360 degrees, top to bottom visuals. No other beverage packaging option meets all of these specifications for brands aiming to appeal

Looking to 2016: Beverage can sheet is to an evolving consumer audience. The adaptability of aluminium is one of the many reasons why it remains a highly competitive packaging option despite decades of market change. A real energy saving advantage The sustainability benefits of aluminium cans are also unmatched in the marketplace. Recycling aluminium requires 95% less energy and produces 95% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than primary aluminium production. Additionally, emissions savings from aluminium recycling have more than doubled since 1990 and are projected to increase by an additional 50% by 2020, *VP, Global Can Sales, Novelis

2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


thus making can sheet from recycled material is better for the environment, better for business and better for customers. Continuing its commitment to sustainability, Novelis recycles more than 50 billion used beverage cans (UBCs) annually and turns them back into new beverage cans in a “can-to-can” cycle of approximately 60 days. This truly closedloop process reduces the carbon footprint of aluminium beverage packaging and makes it a more sustainable option for all stakeholders along the value chain.

sustainability has a real impact on the entire value chain - from suppliers, to can makers, to beverage brands. Novelis, the first and only materials provider to offer certified high-recycled content beverage can sheet, now offers aluminium sheet that is guaranteed to contain at least 90% recycled content. Available to customers globally, this beverage can sheet is certified by Scientific Certification Services, an independent leader in environmental auditing.

Strong demand for sustainable packaging As consumers increasingly look for sustainable products, certified highrecycled content becomes more of a requirement and less of an option for beverage makers considering new packaging options. According to a 2014 study conducted by Forum for the Future,

Looking ahead The aluminium beverage can is a highly engineered, premium product whose evolution continues to meet both consumer demands for portable, sustainable products, and canmaker and beverage brand demands for a highly marketable product. As the global leader in beverage can recycling and beverage can sheet

82% of people surveyed agreed that companies should increase the amount of recycled material in their packaging. An additional 71% would feel better if their packaging was made of recycled material. These findings indicate that consumers are placing an increasing importance on sustainability and high-recycled content. With the recent introduction of certified high-recycled content aluminium to the marketplace, beverage brands and canmakers are now able to certify the amount of recycled material in their packaging, making aluminium cans a leading option in sustainable packaging. Production of aluminium cans with certified high-recycled content sheet reduces the overall carbon footprint of can-making by 44% and proves that

production, Novelis has a deep history of collaboration with canmakers and beverage brands to develop the next wave of sustainable innovations in beverage can sheet. From product to process innovations, Novelis is continuing to make investments in its operations, supply chain and research and technology centers around the world to support the industry’s continued growth into 2016 and beyond. Thanks to steady global demand, heightened consumer interest in products that reduce carbon footprint, and the unique value in versatility, sustainability and convenience that aluminium cans provides to both beverage brands and consumers alike, the future of aluminium can beverage sheet looks bright. �


Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


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 2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


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

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. � 78

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

Desired impacts 2016 Highlights


The LCL&L process A sustainable solution for the treatment and recycling of spent potlining. By Laurent Birry1, Simon Leclerc2 and Stéphane Poirier2

Fig 1. Spent potlining treatment plant in Jonquière (Qc, Canada)

Spent potlining (SPL) is recognised as hazardous material because it contains significant concentrations of toxic and leachable constituents (cyanides and fluorides). Moreover, in contact with water, the reactive species of SPL, such as residual metallic Al, aluminium carbide and nitrides, have the potential of generating ammonia, hydrogen and methane. Hence, transportation, storage and final disposal are subject to strict environmental regulations. Each ton of aluminium produced generates about 22 kg of SPL. For Rio Tinto (RT) in Québec, about 20 kt of SPL is generated per year. Until mid 1980’s, RT operated in Jonquière (QC) a plant treating SPL to produce cryolite. That plant was closed because of reduced cryolite consumption in smelters and, since then, RT has accumulated about 600 kt of SPL in safe above and underground storage

facility. Today, less than 500 kt remain stored. Landfilling of SPL is not an option if the aluminium industry wants to claim an acceptable degree of sustainability. Several options to treat SPL exist and were reported in the literature [1,2]. The biggest challenge for all these options for total recycling of SPL is coming from its heterogeneous composition and its high content in sodium and fluoride. Due to stricter environmental regulations in several places around the world, it becomes more difficult to send SPL without partial or total treatment directly to industries processing hazardous wastes (cement or steel industries). The LCL&L process In the early 1990s, RT has developed at the Arvida Research and Development Centre (ARDC; Jonquière, QC) the

Rio Tinto, Arvida Research and Development Centre; Canada


2016 Highlights

hydrometallurgical process called LCL&L (Low Caustic Leaching and Liming), generating inert by-products with high potential for valorization [3,4]. In 2003, after a thorough evaluation of the various available alternatives, RT chose the LCL&L as the most sustainable solution for the treatment of its stored and fresh SPL. In 2008, RT built an 80kt per year (ktpy) SPL treatment plant in Jonquière (QC) (Fig 1) based on this process [5,6]. The LCL&L process leaches fluorides and cyanides out of SPL and generates inert by-products that can be valorized (Fig 2). The treatment is divided in two parts: one dry and one wet sectors. The dry sector includes unloading, handling and storage of SPL containers, SPL grinding (less than 300 microns) and ground SPL storage. The wet sector consists first of low caustic leaching steps in series to extract the soluble fluorides and cyanide compounds.

Rio Tinto, Spent Potlining Treatment Pilot Plant, Canada


Aluminium International Today


produces 94 kt of CBP, 48 kt of CaF2 and 30 kt of caustic solution (27% NaOH) sent to the nearby Vaudreuil alumina plant.

If required by local environment regulations, additives (such as lime) can be added to the inert residues, also named carbonaceous by-product (CBP), to reduce its level of leachable fluorides as measured by TCLP procedure. Cyanide compounds contained in the leachate are then destroyed in pressurised reactors by high temperature hydrolysis (180°C). If necessary, liquor after the flash tanks may need to be filtered to remove the colloidal iron oxide that was generated during cyanides compounds destruction. The resulting liquor is concentrated by evaporation in a multistage evaporation and crystallisation circuit, generating caustic liquor at a high concentration compatible, for example, with the operation of a Bayer alumina plant, while fluorides are precipitated as sodium fluoride. NaF is one of the by-products

By-products valorization Carbonaceous By-product (CBP) Cement industry and few other industrial pyrometallurgical processes are capable of using the SPL as generated, without any pre-treatment [2]. However, strict restrictions on the sodium and fluoride content in the final product limit the amount of SPL that can be added to these processes. Nowadays, environmental regulations are also stricter and it becomes difficult for these industries to accept unprocessed SPL. Since 2006, RT has developed an intensive R&D program for valorization alternatives for the CBP. Since the plant treats all of the SPL (both carbon lining and the refractory lining),


indicated that nearly 20% of the total CBP production could be valorized this way. The use of CBP by a cement plant allows total recovery of the carbon energy value and of the mineral content of CBP, it has no impact on clinker mineralogy and on cement quality, and does not create any significant environmental concern. Another option identified to valorize mixed CBP is to burn the low sulphur carbon (around 0.1% S) to recover its energy content. The remaining ash could be valorized as raw material for cement plants or in the refractory industry [8]. Since 2013, more than 400 kt of mixed CBP production has been valorized as low density (1250 kg/m3) civil engineering construction material at Rio Tinto bauxite residue disposal site. While compacted to its maximum density, CBP has proven to be a good geotechnical construction % Operation time 90%

90 Cyanide destruction

Silo Ground Na OH solution 25-30g/L

Steam L


Low causting leaching

Inert residue

Caustic tank Washing

Milk of lime

Calcium fluoride CaF2



NaF slurry S

Flash tank Lime


Iron Evaporator Water

Evaporated liquor

NaF Drum filter



Fig 2. LCL&L process flow diagram

of the LCL&L process. After filtration, the solid sodium fluoride is re-dissolved in water and is reacted with lime to generate inert calcium fluoride pulp and low caustic solution. This caustic solution (causticised liquor) is recycled in the process, the excess returning to the evaporator to generate a concentrated caustic solution. Thus, the LCL&L process generates three by-products, which can be valorized: carbonaceous by-product (CBP), fluoride by-product (FBP) in the form of either NaF or CaF2, and a concentrated caustic solution (evaporated liquor). The plant was started up in April 2008 and reached its full capacity in 2014 (Fig 3). Because of the context of a new technology demonstration, a progressive ramp-up strategy was needed before reaching the nominal plant capacity (80 ktpy). The first years of operation have been dedicated to ramp-up major equipment, process adjustments and optimisation. Since 2014, the plant treats 80 ktpy of fresh and stored SPL and Aluminium International Today

NaF Dissolution



Treated SPL ktons

Water leach





















2011 2012 Year





Fig 3. Plant capacity ramp-up

the CBP contains approximately 30-40% carbon (on dry basis) and 60-70% of inert materials (mostly SiO2 and Al2O3). Because of its mixed nature, CBP is essentially limited to be used as alternative fuel and raw material for clinker production in the cement industry. Compared to direct SPL valorization in the cement industry, the CBP contains five times less total fluorides and alkalis (sodium), which enables higher dosage into the kiln. The carbon is attractive for its energy content (approx. 13 GJ/t), while the inert material is attractive for its mineral composition (ash) relative to clinker chemistry. Moreover, residual inert fluorides (mostly in the CaF2 form) in the CBP have the advantage of lowering the energy required to produce clinker due to its fluxing properties. However the mixed nature challenges state of the art clinker production, since minerals are normally fed to the kiln at the cold end while solid fuel is fed to the hot end. Plant scale tests done in 2009 at the Holcim cement facility located in Joliette, Québec,

material. As a promising solution to valorize mixed CBP, carbon separation techniques, such as flotation, were tested in laboratory and in pilot trials. Carbon concentrate grade over 90% C, with carbon recovery up to 95%, and brick concentrate containing less than 5% C were generated. In 2011, more than 150 t of CBP (dry basis) were successfully treated in a pilot unit to produce 50 t of carbon concentrate and 100t of brick concentrate. The carbon concentrate has promising valorization options for the cement and steel industry, but has also an interesting graphitic value. In 2012-2013, 150 t of anodes containing 1% of this carbon concentrate were produced and successfully tested in electrolysis cells at Grande-Baie plant (UGB), Québec. In the eventuality that the first cut (fraction of SPL above the collector bars, mainly carbon) and second cut (fraction of SPL below the collector bars, mainly refractory brick) would be separated 2016 Highlights


during dismantling of the electrolysis pots, and then treated separately by the LCL&L process, it would be also possible to obtain separate carbon and brick concentrate. An R&D project is on-going at the plant to test this option: a few hundred tonnes of each cut were recently treated separately with success at the plant. The processed brick concentrate contains around 5% C (similar to results obtained by flotation) while the carbon concentrate contains above 80% C. This option seems to be interesting for valorization of fresh SPL. Fluoride by-product (FBP) valorization The valorization of the fluorides extracted from the SPL must take into account characteristics and quality constraints of the local market. In Quebec, because of the limited market for sodium fluoride (NaF), it is better to convert NaF to calcium fluoride (CaF2), which has also the advantage of being inert. In Jonquière, the conversion to CaF2 allows the FBP to be used as an alternative raw material in the nearby aluminium fluoride plant, allowing a considerable saving. At its nominal production, the fluoride plant is consuming 90 ktpy of fluorspar (mineral CaF2) to produce aluminium fluoride, AlF3 in a two-step process: the first step being the generation of HF by reacting CaF2 with sulphuric acid while the second step is the production of AlF3 by reacting anhydrous HF with aluminium hydroxide (Al(OH)3). AlF3 is then re-used in the electrolysis smelters as an additive for the bath, allowing to close the loop of the fluorides. During the last two years, R&D efforts were focused on both chemistry and transformation of CaF2 to meet the AlF3 plant requirements. With better control

of lime addition and process parameters, side reactions of lime with sodium carbonate or with aluminate and silicate in solution were minimised, avoiding large precipitation of these calcium salts with CaF2. The other challenge for the CaF2, in addition to its purity, is the particle size necessary for its introduction at the fluoride plant (around 50µm). Pyroprocessing test in rotary kiln also resulted in CaF2 particles enlargement. The result of these efforts was completed by a pilot trial producing 2000 t of CaF2 pulp with good purity (87 dry wt.% CaF2). This pulp was then processed at high temperature in a rotary kiln, and the particle size specification for the dry material target was reached. The final CaF2 was then introduced at the fluoride plant for several weeks, replacing successfully 25-30% fluorspar feeding with minimal process modifications, and allowing for a full qualification of this valorisation route. Future works will include the engineering and construction of a full-scale transformation process (sintering/grinding) in order to close the fluoride loop of the LCL&L process. Conclusion The LCL&L process was developed by RioTinto to treat in a sustainable way fresh and stored spent potlining generated by the aluminium industry in Quebec. It is a now a proven and robust technology with 500 kt of various type of SPL treated so far. Meanwhile, R&D was done to develop and implement the valorization routes of the LCL&L by-products. Currently, valorization level has reached 75 % of the total byproducts produced and closing the loop of the fluorides with the recycling

of CaF2 at the fluoride plant will make the LCL&L process even more sustainable and economical to efficiently treat SPL. Given the success of the LCL&L technology, this plant represents the best available technology (BAT) for SPL management for other aluminium producers in Quebec and in North America. Moreover, the LCL&L process should also be foreseen as a commercially available technology solution for application in other regions of the world where a significant amount of SPL needs to be managed. � References 1. R. P. Pawlek, ‘‘Spent potlining: an update,’’ Light Metals (2012), 1313-1317. 2. G. Holywell and R. Breault, ‘‘An overview of useful methods to treat, recover, or recycle spent potlining,’’ JOM, 65(11) (2013), 1441-1451. 3. F.M. Kimmerle et al., ‘‘SPL treatment by the LCL&L process : Pilot study of two-stage leaching,’’ Light Metals (2001), 199-211. 4. V. Kasireddy et al., Recycling of spent Pot Linings, US Patent no 6,596,252. Jul. 22, 2003. 5. G. Hamel et al., ‘‘ From the Low Caustic Leaching and Liming process development to the Jonquiere spent potlining treatment pilot plant start-up, 5 years of process up-scaling, engineering and commissioning,’’ Light Metals (2009), 921-925. 6. G. Hamel et al., ‘‘Towards industrial aluminium spent potlining treatment with complete endproduct valorization,’’ Light Metals (2011), 17-23. 7. R. Breault, G. Hamel, and N.-A. Bouchard, ‘‘Mitigation of sodiumfluoride scale in an evaporator-crystallizer,’’ Proceedings of International Conference on Heat Exchanger Fouling and Cleaning (2011), 105-110. 8. P. B. Personnet, ‘‘treatment and Reuse of Spent Pot Lining – An Industrial Application in a Cement Kiln,’’ Light Metals conference (1999), 269-276.

� 75 Enhancing long-term drivers for sustainability 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 2016 Highlights

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 � To find out more, visit: or contact:

Aluminium International Today


All about aluminium Aleris, a global leader in aluminium rolled products, continues to help customers realise the unlimited potential of aluminium around the world by focusing on high-growth markets and emerging trends for the miracle metal. Since spinning off its recycling and extrusions businesses in 2015, the company has been focused on the next phase of its growth strategy; better positioning its global footprint to maximise its involvement in highly engineered markets like aerospace and automotive, as well as capitalise on emerging demand for more aluminium in the design and construction of buildings. In many ways, applications like architecture have been an emerging market for the aluminium industry. Aleris’ 55HX aluminium fits the value need for buildings and architects with excellent deformation properties, high service quality and colour uniformity, which gives designers the creativity they need to shape designs by bending, perforating, punching or expanding the material for creative wall cladding. Product offerings like multi-layered tubing, commercial plate and material for the heat exchanger (HEX) market continue to probe the endless possibilities of aluminium. The market is particularly robust in the Middle East and North America where Aleris works closely with architects to specify aluminium products that meet Aluminium International Today

their design and building objectives. The company recently supplied a superior aluminium product for the roofing and wall cladding of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). Described to be the largest archaeological museum devoted to Egyptology in the world, GEM is the most prestigious project of Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities so far. The site is located on 50 hectares (120 acres) of land between the ancient pyramids of Giza and Cairo. Aleris will contribute to this project by supplying its unique 151EX aluminium product for the roofing, ceiling and wall cladding of the museum. The museum is scheduled to be inaugurated in 2018, targeting two million visitors annually. The aerospace industry also continues to embrace aluminium as a material of choice as that market grows. According to a forecast completed by Flight Ascend Consultancy, part of FlightGlobal, the world's fleet of commercial aircraft is expected to increase by 81% to 49,940 aircraft in 2035, by which time 41% of the fleet is expected to be operating in Asia Pacific and China. Continued higher-thanaverage passenger traffic growth rates in

this region will remain the key drivers for the industry's growth and new aircraft demand in the next 20 years. Aleris has developed some of the lightest alloys available today. Use of these alloys in the automotive and aerospace industries results in lighter vehicles and aircraft that reduce fuel use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. On an aircraft, on average, every kilogram of weight reduced by using Aleris speciality alloys can result in the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by approximately 1,250 tonnes over the life of an airplane. The company has continued to ramp up its facility in China since attaining Nadcap accreditation in 2014. Major aircraft manufacturers have qualified the facility in Zhenjiang, China including Airbus, Boeing, COMAC and Bombardier. The company’s business in the Asia Pacific region had its best performance ever in the second quarter of 2016 which helped drive 19% growth in aerospace sales yearover-year. The facility was built to mirror the technology of the company’s hub of aerospace aluminium production in Koblenz, Germany. Airbus was the latest major aerospace manufacturer to extend its supply agreement with Aleris. Earlier this year, the company secured a new multi-year contract with Airbus to expand the range of aluminium products that it will supply, specifically technically advanced wing skins. Its new facility in China and technology advancements enabled the company to broaden its product offering to the aerospace market. Recently appointed President and CEO Sean Stack characterised the Airbus agreement as validation of the company’s strategy to expand its global rolled products footprint and invest in technology. “With world class facilities strategically positioned in Koblenz, Germany and Zhenjiang, China we are in a strong position to support the significant growth projected in the aerospace industry, particularly in the Asia Pacific region,” said Stack. The aluminium industry is also seeing strong automotive demand around the world. While Aleris has supplied premium automotive manufacturers in Europe for more than a decade, its business with North American OEM’s was much smaller. A large expansion in Lewisport, Kentucky is set to change that beginning in 2017. A $400 million expansion will make Lewisport Aleris’ first automotive body sheet facility in North America. When fully operational, the new facility will allow for the production of 480 million pounds of aluminium auto body sheet annually. The new automotive capabilities in Lewisport 2016 Highlights


Materials handling solutions for your industry

• Improved storage utilisation • Safer product handling • Increased productivity • Indoor / Outdoor

The façade of the Selfridge building in Birmingham, England comprises 15,000 polished and anodised spun formed discs made of 151EX material from Aleris Duffel in Belgium.

will include the addition of heat treatment and finishing capabilities, including a new wide cold mill, two continuous annealing lines and an automotive innovation centre. The automotive demand trends for aluminium in North America are significant. A recent study of North American light vehicle aluminium content released by Ducker Worldwide states that the use of aluminium sheet for vehicle bodies is expected to increase to more than three billion pounds by 2025, from 200 million pounds in 2012. Along with other aluminium producers, Aleris is seeing that demand with automotive sales up 17% yearover-year in the second quarter of this year driven primarily by European auto builds as the company prepares to open its North American expansion. Architects are also looking more toward aluminium as a solution for both aesthetics and building function. The use of aluminium in building designs has become a trend, as modern public and business architecture strives to give buildings a unique look to help them stand out from their neighbours and from comparable structures in other locations. Iconic buildings featuring Aleris aluminium include the Tianjin Binhai International airport, the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, named one of the seven architectural wonders of the world, and the Selfridge building in Birmingham, England, the façade of which comprises 15,000 polished and anodised spun formed discs made of 151EX material from Aleris in Belgium. Aluminum is, in many ways, an inherently sustainable product, which makes it ideal for so many markets. Its versatility, lightweight properties and infinite recyclability make it extremely competitive when compared to other materials. Recycling aluminium eliminates waste and reduces the need for primary metal that require more energy to produce. On average, products made with recycled aluminium require 95% less energy than those made with primary aluminium, according to the Aluminum Association. Aleris is continuously working to create and develop new alloys that can incorporate higher percentages of recycled content. Aleris remains focused on increasing its scrap absorption rate as an integral part of its sustainability vision and long-term strategy. By bringing new products to market, integrating more aluminium scrap into its processes, and expanding closed-loop partnerships with customers, the company is improving the overall environmental footprint of products produced. � Aluminium International Today


Keep on truckin’ Combilift is Optima’s optimum handling solution. By Liz Townsend* From its manufacturing facility in a small town in rural Somerset, Optima’s range of office partitioning is sent around the world and used in projects by top international companies. Optima continues to expand globally, particularly in Australia and Singapore and products such as its Microflush aluminium door frames are the first choice for leading architects and specifiers wanting to provide commercial workspace that features design and installation. Before Optima’s systems find their way to locations such as the Shard, the Gherkin or a new building in Dubai, the more mundane, but crucial issue of offloading, handling and storing packs and bundles of aluminium needs to be addressed. Keeping materials on the move is therefore a priority for Warehouse Manager Howard Paterson at the site in Radstock near Bath, UK, where upgraded warehouse, storage and despatch facilities were installed a few years ago due to ever increasing stock levels. A key piece of equipment for Howard and his team is a Combilift multidirectional forklift, which is used continuously to offload incoming deliveries from suppliers such as ThyssenKrupp and Sapa, put them into racking, take unfinished products to the powder coating facility and return them to the warehouse when treated. When goods are ready to be despatched the Combilift is again on hand to do this. It is a relatively small cog in a large operation, but a vital one as Howard explains: “Having just the one truck means that any down-time would cause massive problems and backlogs.” Optima used a counterbalance forklift years ago when operations were on a smaller scale, but the company was an early convert to the advantages of Combilift’s four-way technology, which offers space saving storage and manoeuvring of loads and versatile operation. It leased its first

truck in 2000, followed by a replacement five years later and has recently purchased its present model outright. When the warehouse refurbishment was under way, the new racking was configured according to the capabilities of the Combilift then in place, ensuring best use of the space available. As with the previous models, Combilift number three is a C3000 diesel powered truck with a 3t capacity, which copes easily with the loads weighing from just a few kilos up to 1.5t, and has a 7.5m mast to access the top beams of racking. Its four-way capability enables it to move sideways when manoeuvring the longest 7m packs of aluminium, to work in narrow aisles and to pass though the doorway to the yard. Multidirectional travel also comes into its own when taking product to the powder coating facility at a separate site on the industrial estate, which necessitates using a public road. With extra lights, number plates and other features, the Combilift is road legal, and on average it undertakes this journey twice an hour. Warehouse Operative Steve Biggs comments: “If I had to carry 7m loads with a counterbalance truck I’d take up most of the road and would be very unpopular with the other local businesses!” Steve and the other drivers had input into the finished specification of the new Combilift, with Howard pointing out that those who spend most time in the cab know best and that he was keen to provide what they wanted - hence diesel power rather than electric or LPG options due to the long runs around the site. A wiper on the top glass roof was also added at Steve’s request to aid visibility when putting loads into the higher racking when coming in out of the yard in wet weather. The in-cab heater and fan for cold and hot conditions respectively also make for a more comfortable environment, and

Steve finds the seating and ergonomics more luxurious than in the first Combilift he operated. “When you are in the truck pretty much all day these things make a big difference,” he said. “The hydraulic fork positioners are also great, particularly in bad weather, as you don’t have to get out and manually adjust the forks to accord to the specific size of load.” One of Combilift’s strengths as a manufacturer is its ability to customise its range to accord to specific customer requirements. The lift height that Optima required is not usually available on the compact C3000 model so Combilift design engineers redesigned and repositioned the mast mounting to allow the 7.5m mast to be fitted. They also shortened the platform to enable narrow aisle operation that is needed in parts of the warehouse. Optima’s new truck was supplied by Westexe Forklifts Ltd., which also looks after the service and maintenance. Combilift was established 16 years ago and in this time it has notched up an enviable record of growth, supplying around 27,000 units to customers in more than 75 countries. The company has a wide portfolio for handling not only long and bulky goods but also pallets, containers and oversized loads and has won numerous awards for its products. The construction of Combilift’s new €40 million, 46,000m² manufacturing plant and global HQ recently got under way on a 40 hectare site in Monaghan, Ireland, and the facility is on course to be up and running by the first quarter of 2017. The expansion will position Combilift to double its current €150 million turnover by 2020 and will also create 200 jobs in the next five years, mainly for skilled technicians and design engineers. � Contact

*Avenue PR Aluminium International Today

2016 Highlights


MQP answers From the technology of Batchpilot furnace weight measurement to the methodology of Opticast grain refiner optimisation, from Premetz real time web based quality control to Optifilter state of art filtration and from Optifine high performance grain refiners to environmentally friendly Refinal fused refining fluxes, MQP is continuing to advance casthouse melt quality. John Courtenay, Owner and Managing Director, speaks to Aluminium International Today. 1. How are things going at MQP? I’m pleased to say our business is going very well with strong sales growth in countries around the world. We’ve recently employed more people, including Richard Dean as International Sales Manager for Europe and Middle East and Adel Palmer as Operations coordinator.

consumption and raw material usage will be decreased by the same amount; also 70% less is needed to be transported and 70% less storage is needed. Last but not least and handling in the casthouse, e.g. truck transports, coil changes etc., is reduced to a minimum.

2. How does MQP work with the aluminium industry? Our policy is to create partnerships with customers and work with them to provide the best solutions for their quality and costs of production needs. This often involves a number of visits, our technical staff spending time in customer’s casthouses and carrying out testing and examination of their metal samples in our laboratory. Subsequently a technical report is prepared which makes recommendations on quality issues and the application of MQP products. 3. How is MQP working towards being more sustainable? We have developed the range of Refinal environmentally friendly, cost effective, fused fluxes for the removal of sodium and cleaning molten aluminium. These have replaced the use of chlorine gas which although effective, presents major health and safety concerns in its usage and control in a casthouse environment. We have also introduced a much more effective TiBAl grain refiner which means that the tonnage of TiBAl made by the producer is reduced, which has a significant benefit for the environment. For example, each tonne of grain refiner produced requires 368kg of Potassium borofluoride and titanofluoride salts to be reacted, releasing a significant quantity of fluorine gas. Western world production of grain refiners will use in excess of 11,000 tonnes of these toxic salts in 2016 based on current estimates. If grain refiner consumption is decreased by 70%, then emissions, energy 2016 Highlights

4. What are the big trends in technology and where is MQP leading the way? The aluminium industry is increasingly focused on the production of quality critical ultra clean semi-finished slab and billet products for applications in the automotive industry. Casthouses are now developing processes and equipment to produce, measure and maintain clean metal to a high specification. MQP is offering real time Premetz analysis software, developed by Technology Strategy Consultants (tsc), which brings a totally fresh approach to melt quality.

The Premetz software is the basis of a web based service where casthouse customers can securely upload Prefil data files for immediate analysis, singly or in batches and obtain meaningful information on their melt cleanliness and quality in real time. Using Premetz it is possible to obtain a complete analysis of a Prefil test within five minutes of taking the sample; a major benefit. 5. Do you see MQP as an innovator within the industry? We certainly do. MQP was formed in the year 2000 and from the outset our guiding philosophy has been to develop and introduce innovative technology for casthouses. Batchpilot is a system for accurate electronic measurement of furnace heel weights and transfer weights. The system is based on the principle of measuring changes in the furnace hydraulic cylinder pressure with furnace tilt angle. Other measurement systems, based on lasers and radar beams or load cells can be inaccurate and do not provide a solution because they cannot differentiate between the mass of build ups on the furnace hearth and walls and the weight of the liquid metal heel remaining in the furnace. Having identified this “need” we sought specialised help and engaged an expert in this technology, Daniel Audet from UQAC, Quebec. Today, Batchpilot is established as a reliable means of accurately measuring liquid metal heel and full furnace weight in tilting furnaces and 55 systems are currently in operation worldwide. 6. What does MQP have in store for 2016/17? We expect to complete the testing of the Optifilter three chamber filter with cyclone and to apply this high efficiency filtration system together with Optifine high efficiency grain refinement to improve liquid metal quality and reduce costs. � Aluminium International Today


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Properzi and the aluminium rod

2016 Highlights

22000 Twh

20000 18000 16000 14000 12000 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000


2008 2010 2012 2014


1996 1998 2000 2002 2004

1990 1992 1994




1980 1982

1976 1978

0 1974

For several decades the value chain of the aluminium industry has included semi-finished products (billets, rod and slabs) and re-melt forms counting tee-ingots, sows and ingots. The semis and the re-melt products are identified as “commodities” because, in principle, they have a reference price worldwide as well as standardised shapes, characteristics and packing. Aluminium scrap, properly refined, is a very valid alternative to primary aluminium for the production of re-melt forms and, in some cases, for the production of billets. On the contrary, aluminium rod, used mainly in the cable industry and for very sophisticated mechanical applications, needs primary pure aluminium to be alloyed for the final uses. In some very limited applications, such as rod for steel deoxidation purposes, aluminium scrap can be used as the raw material thus achieving cost savings. It is amazing to observe how fast the aluminium industry is growing. Just to put some reference numbers on the table, the worldwide installed smelting capacity was 27,500,000 tpy in 2006 and six years later it had more than doubled (58,300,000 tpy in 2012). What are the factors that have boosted and continue to boost the growth of the aluminium industry? Well, we can say that besides the “perfect three” which include: � population increase � rising rate of urbanization � increase in standard of living the growth of the demand for aluminium commodities also takes advantage of the so-called “rate of substitution”. In fact, in several engineering sectors, the light metal is replacing steel and copper and other previously used materials more and more. Only a few years ago it was almost considered as a conceptual mistake to consider the use of aluminium wires in light and heavy vehicles. Presently, the use of aluminium wire harnesses in light vehicles is a consolidated reality which allows the car manufacturers to relocate the battery in the right place: in the trunk, far away from the high temperature of the engine compartment. This is just one example of substitution of copper by aluminium. We could also mention automotive wheels which now-a-days are rarely made of steel. We should list the electrical conductors which have switched more and more, over the years, from copper to aluminium based; the frames for windows and doors where aluminium has replaced wood and PVC in many cases but……the list would become too long and we prefer to stop here with the list of aluminium successes. Continuus-Properzi started serving the aluminium industry more than 65 years ago, primarily in the electrical sector, bringing its technology and its

Source: IEA 2009 Source: Yearbook Enerdata

Aggregated demand of electric energy: 1974-2015

equipment for producing aluminium rod to the major players of the cable industry worldwide. In fact, since the time of the invention of Continuous Casting and In-Line Rolling by Ilario Properzi (1897-1976), the technology for the production of aluminium wire rod by rolling of individual wire bars has become obsolete. The economics, safety and convenience of the Properzi technology and process gave an unimaginable boost to the aluminium rod industry which still continues today. Although we are discussing aluminium rod, we should at least mention that Ilario Properzi, during the late 1950s, was able to extend the continuous casting and direct rolling process to the production of copper rod. Thanks to the inventions of Mr. Properzi, over the years aluminium rod and copper rod have remained the basic semi-finished products concerned with the transportation, distribution and utilization of electric energy (EE). In other words, the growth of the demand for EE goes hand-in-hand with the growth of the demand for rod, both copper and aluminium. Well, going back in history, we can see in Fig 1 the glorious Properzi Rolling Mill Model 6. We could say that this machine, very basic and simple if compared to a modern CCR (Continuous Casting and Rolling) aluminium rod line, Aluminium International Today


(see Fig 2) contributed to the electrification of our world during the period 1950-1965. According to available statistics, in that period the aggregated demand of EE worldwide went from 1,850 TWh in 1950 to 3,700 TWh in 1965. In 1960 the overall production of aluminium was in the range of 5 million tpy and there were approximately 50 Properzi aluminium rod lines in operation in 19 countries. The total annual output of those 50 Properzi rod lines was, optimistically, in the range of 500,000 tons; the same output today is attainable through five modern CCR aluminium rod lines of 15 tph! Fig 3 displays the aggregated demand for EE recorded from 1974 to 2015. As we can see, despite the various wellknown international crises, the demand for EE has always been characterized by positive trends except in the period 2008 - 2009 where the trend, for the first time, was negative due to a global and general recession. The most recent statistics, elaborated by Continuus-Properzi’s Marketing Department, illustrate that the current production of aluminium rod worldwide is in the range of 6.3 to 6.5 million tons per year. Just to complete the statistics, we should observe that 10 years ago the demand for aluminium rod was 3.4 to 3.5 million tons to support a global demand for EE of approximately 15,000 TWh. The players in the wire and cable industry can be very optimistic about the future if they consider that, according to Exxon Mobil, the expected growth of the demand for EE should reach 32,500 TWh in 2040 (forecast twenty-forty) for a world population of approximately 9 billion people. Aluminium rod is produced either in primary smelters or directly by cable producers with dedicated Properzi CCR rod lines. The aluminium rod can be packed in loose coils (Fig 4), whenever the rod does not require containerization for transportation, or in tight coils (Fig 5) so as to optimize the transportation costs for the containers in case the point of production and the point of utilization require ocean freight or long inland transportation. Although until now we have mentioned only the major rod applications, those destined for the cable industry, there are almost an infinite amount Aluminium International Today

of other applications – known as “Mechanical Applications” - which range from the clip to close the salami casing, to the rivets for the aerospace industry, to the fast growing sector of welding alloys (Fig 6). Twenty years ago the industry was only asking for 9.5mm and, in some cases, 7.6mm, but for several years now the market has been requiring larger rod diameters such as 12mm, 15mm, 19mm, 25mm and sometimes also 30mm, all in a very wide assortment of alloys. We have given the framework for the various applications of aluminium rod in Table A, which is self-explanatory. It goes without saying that the production of complex alloys rod, especially in large diameters, requires the combination of dedicated production know-how and flexible and sturdy equipment designed to ensure the repeatability of the level of quality achieved. Properzi is the pioneer in this sector, and through their 300 rod plants commissioned in more than 50 countries has accumulated the necessary know-how for designing and manufacturing plants in compliance with the very severe requirements requested by the users. Let’s go back to the cable sector and see how Properzi has contributed to the development of new alloys dedicated to this industry. For many years, the power transmission lines have been designed using ACSR (Aluminium Conductors Steel Reinforced) considering an average conductivity of 60-61.5% IACS (the reference International Annealed Copper Standard has a conductivity equal to 100% IACS). The big overhead wires were composed of pure aluminium but, due to the poor tensile strength of pure aluminium, it was necessary to use an internal core wire made of steel for the mechanical properties and, of course, the active strand was made of aluminium. This type of conductor has several disadvantages: the two major ones are the high weight per Ampere-hour (Ah) transmitted and the corrosion phenomena; both are associable to the presence of the steel core. 2016 Highlights


Engineers know that in technical matters the perfect solution does not exist but the best solution represents the best compromise among a number of variable factors. Among such design input the most important was the reduction of the ratio [w/Ah; meaning weight per Ampere-hour transmitted] so as to be in a position to increase the cross sectional area of the conductors, in consideration of the growing quantity of electric energy in transit in the existing corridorâ&#x20AC;Śwhile, at the same time, not forgetting to reduce the weight of such conductors. In summary, new strategies of the wire and cable industry are reflected in the maximisation of the transportable power on existing infrastructures or the minimisation of the necessary number of pylons for the transmission lines. The above inputs have found three main routes for follow-up: a) Development of new alloys reflecting the best compromise be


commercial application


rivets (non-aircraft), impact extrusion


rivets (non-aircraft), impact extrusion


rivets (non-aircraft), impact extrusion


tie and utility wire












screw machine stock, fasteners, rivets


screw machine stock, fasteners, rivets


screw machine stock, fasteners, rivets, die-forgings, nuts & bolts


screw machine stock, fasteners, rivets, bicycle nipples, balls


fence, impact extrusion (tubes)


fence, impact extrusion (tubes)


tie and utility wire


welding wire


welding wire


conductors, rivets (non-aircraft)


fasteners, rivets (non-aircraft), nails, fence


fasteners, rivets (non-aircraft), tie and utility wire, antennas


fasteners, rivets (non-aircraft), tie and utility wire, antennas


fasteners, rivets (non-aircraft), tie and utility wire, antennas


zipper wire, insect screen, rivets (non-aircraft), nails


fastener, rivets (non-aircraft), zipper wire, tie and utility wire


welding wire


welding wire, insect screen, rivets (non-aircraft)


welding wire


welding wire


welding wire


welding wire, rivets (non-aircraft)


screw machine stock, nots & bolts, fittings


fasteners, rivets (non-aircraft), nails, fence, impact extrusion


fasteners, impact extrusion


fasteners, rivets (non-aircraft), nails, die-forgings






screw machine stock

















tween tensile strength and conductivity. This is to realize AAAC (All Aluminium Alloys Conductors) in a way to eliminate the heavy steel core from the conductors. The wires have almost doubled the tensile strength as compared to pure aluminium and a satisfactory conductivity, with their resistivity about 10% higher than pure aluminium. Some of the most used alloys are: AA6101, AA6201, AA5005, AA8176 b) Development of new alloys resulting in SAG resistant conductors. Alloys of Mg and Zr, commercially referred to as TAL, ZTAL, XTAL. These alloys are applied in steel reinforced overhead line conductors, allowing the line capacity to be increased by 50 to 100%. Depending on the

Table A

2016 Highlights

Aluminium International Today


Output rate


Expected output 5 days/week

Expected output 7 days/week


























not suggested


Extra large


not suggested



not suggested



not suggested


Table B

alloy, the maximum allowable temperatures are between 150°C and 230°C. Peak temperatures may vary between 180°C and 310°C. These conductors have a limited sag effect as compared to others. c) Use of AA1370 or AA1350 (commercially pure aluminium) in H11 temper (85 MPa ≤ UTS ≤ 95 MPa) for the manufacturing of conductors type ACCC (Aluminium Conductors Composite Core). The conductor consists of a carbon fiber wire, with a typical tensile strength of 1500 N/mm2, around which aluminium wires are wound. In order to optimise the filling of the apparent cross sectional area of the conductor, the wires are profiled instead of having a circular cross sectional area. ACCC conductors can significantly increase the capacity of an existing power corridor without requiring the necessary modifications to existing structures, as would be necessary if a larger conventional cable was used to increase the required capacity. Several technical papers have illustrated in detail the various strategies and new technologies concerned with the need for transporting more and more EE within existing infrastructures; therefore we will avoid going deeper into this subject, but we will only add that Properzi, with their specialised machinery and dedicated services, has allowed the cable industry to reach targets that were unimaginable “yesterday”. The application of aluminium rod for mechanical uses is maybe even more demanding and severe than the application for electric conductors. Also in this sector the driving forces are the “perfect three” and the rate of substitution where steel is most often the loser. Yes, aluminium rod is everywhere around us in the form of conductors, and we have good reason to believe that for the foreseeable future this market trend which requires increasingly complex alloys will grow at a steady rate; this will be the future. Properzi can offer a complete range of aluminium rod plants, from the smallest ones sized for 10,000 tpy to the extra-large ones sized for 100,000 tpy. The complete range of Properzi CCR Al rod lines is displayed in Table B. For SMALL and MEDIUM plants Properzi has tailored the very efficient Aluminium International Today

vertical melting furnace called “Vert-Melt”. This furnace is not available for LARGE and EXTRA-LARGE CCR rod lines since, in general, such plants are equipped with large holding furnaces which are fed with liquid metal coming from pot lines. Properzi also has a very wide range of coilers for rod packaging. In summary: � the classic package of 2.5 tons, both in European and American standard � the jumbo coiler, designed to produce coils of 3 tons, again in European and American standard � the super-jumbo coiler which has been delivered mainly in North America where the coils weigh 3.7 tons and have an internal diameter of 780 mm All the above are solutions for tight coils either in random or pitch-topitch mode. Also available for small and medium CCR lines is the packaging in loose coils for in-house transportation and use. In case any packaging for export is required, Properzi offers an off-line recoiler. In addition to the Properzi “classic” aluminium plants described above, some years back Properzi launched a new generation of CCR lines called E–Type (where “E” stands for Essential). Such lines, ranging from 1.6 tph through 4 tph, have been specially designed for producing EC grade and eventually AA 6201. The rod is generally coiled in loose coils, ideal for inhouse use of the produced rod. The annual output rate of such CCR lines ranges from 10,000 tpy through 26,000 tpy. The furnace set is also part of Properzi’s supply. We have talked about machinery but the following services and/or features offered by Properzi should not be neglected as a part of the supply package: � specialised engineering for layouts, foundation drawings, and for tailoring special technical solutions, if requested � lowest OpEx (Operational Expenditures) � highest OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) � first class components (hydraulic, pneumatic, electrics, etc.) and user-friendly control system � high rod quality and high grade of repeatability of the quality � flexible machines � on-site technical assistance for training, commissioning and start-up Seventy years; it is a very big number also to be written and, in fact, we have walked a long way and… the journey is continuing!� Carmelo Maria Brocato Vice President of the Board Commercial Director 2016 Highlights


AIT HIGHLIGHTS 2016 cover 2.indd 3

14/12/2016 09:57:22

Aluminium International Today Highlights 2016  
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