Column: Aluminium is the West’s critical minerals blind spot – by Andy Home (Reuters – May 23, 2023)

LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) – Aluminium is classified as a critical mineral by both the United States and the European Union. You wouldn’t know it from the perilous state of primary metal production on both sides of the Atlantic.

High energy costs, particularly in Europe, have caused multiple smelters to close or curtail output with the result that run-rates are the lowest this century. Back in 2020 the World Bank identified aluminium as a “high-impact” and “cross-cutting” metal in all existing and potential green energy technologies.

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OPINION: Rio Tinto’s century-old Quebec aluminum smelter is living on borrowed time – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – May 10, 2023)

Canada’s aluminum industry got its start in the Quebec town that U.S. industrialist Arthur Vining Davis built in the 1920s. A century later, Arvida – its name derived from the first letters of its founder’s name – is living on borrowed time.

The life of the Arvida aluminum smelter that opened in 1926, now owned by Rio Tinto, has been repeatedly extended in recent decades as the Quebec government reissued its operating permits even though the smelter belches out pollutants that far exceed provincial norms.

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Why skinny soda cans are everywhere – by Nathaniel Meyersohn ( – March 30, 2023)

New York CNN — Suddenly, your beverage is taller. Beverage brands rely on packaging shape and design to draw in consumers. Now they’re counting on a new slew of skinny aluminum cans to subtly signal to consumers that their exotic new drinks are healthier than the beer and sodas in the short, round cans of old.

Topo Chico, Simply and SunnyD recently launched alcoholic seltzers and cocktails in tall, thin cans, while Day One, Celsius and Starbucks have debuted sparkling water and energy drinks in new slim cans. Coke with Coffee launched in a slim version last year, too.

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Canada bans Russian steel, aluminum imports as Joly raises ‘regime change’ in Moscow – by Dylan Robertson (CBC News/Canadian Press – March 10, 2023)

Canada is banning imports of Russian steel and aluminum as part of its sanctions regime, as Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly raises the possibility of regime change in Moscow. Joly made the remarks at a Friday press conference where she discussed the importance of maintaining a diplomatic presence in Moscow.

“We’re able to see how much we’re isolating the Russian regime right now — because we need to do so economically, politically and diplomatically — and what are the impacts also on society and how much we’re seeing potential regime change in Russia,” she said.

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Column: United States targets Russian aluminium and other metals – by Andy Home (Reuters – February 28, 2023)

LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) – The United States has extended its punitive economic measures against Russia into the metals and mining sector. Aluminium will be hardest hit with penal tariffs of 200% on imports of Russian metal, effective March 10, and imports of any third-country product containing Russian metal, effective April 10.

Import tariffs on other metals such as copper and lead will double to 70% and nickel will be subject to a 35% duty. The full package of sanctions and trade measures, announced on the anniversary of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, covers over 100 metals, minerals and chemicals.

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Malaysia set to gain from Indonesia’s ban on bauxite exports – by Zunaira Saieed (The Straits Times – January 1, 2023)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia, once among the world’s top 10 biggest bauxite suppliers to China, is set to emerge as a beneficiary of Indonesia’s latest ban on its export.

According to Indonesia’s customs data, China imported 17.8 million tonnes in 2021 from the country, accounting for about 15 per cent of its total imports. China, the world’s largest consumer, imported 107.42 million tonnes of bauxite in 2021, according to data from Statista.

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Aluminum-based material can scrub CO2 from coal-fired power plants’ exhaust – by Staff ( – November 6, 2022)

An international team of researchers is proposing the idea of using aluminum formate – a metal-organic framework (MOF) – to remove carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants’ exhaust before the greenhouse gas reaches the atmosphere.

In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, the research group explains that MOFs have exhibited great potential for filtering and separating organic materials—often the various hydrocarbons in fossil fuels—from one another.

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OPINION: The case for subsidizing Quebec aluminum smelters gets harder and harder to make – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – November 2, 2022)

Rio Tinto chief executive officer Jakob Stausholm last month had a downbeat message for the mining giant’s Canadian aluminum operations with prices for the lightweight metal plummeting by almost half since briefly hitting a record high earlier this year.

“It is actually very difficult to have a profitable aluminum industry in North America at this time because Russian aluminum is flowing in,” Mr. Stausholm told Bloomberg News. “Right now we have the lowest aluminum price this year and you would have thought the Russia-Ukraine crisis would have led to higher prices in aluminum.”

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White House Weighs Ban on Russian Aluminum Over Ukraine War Escalation – by Joe Deaux and Jenny Leonard (Bloomberg News – October 12, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — The Biden administration is considering a complete ban on Russian aluminum — long shielded from sanctions due to its importance in everything from automobiles and skyscrapers to iPhones — in response to Russia’s military escalation in Ukraine.

The White House is eyeing three options: an outright ban, increasing tariffs to levels so punitive they would impose an effective ban, or sanctioning the company that produces the nation’s metal, United Co. Rusal International PJSC, according to people familiar with the decision-making.

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Russian Aluminum Imports Are Hurting US Market, Rio Tinto CEO Warns – by Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – September 21, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — Rio Tinto Plc’s top executive is raising the alarm that the unfettered flow of Russian aluminum into the US is making North American producers less competitive.

Russian imports, which remain exempt from US sanctions, are flowing into the country unrestricted when allies like Australia continue to face restrictions left over from the Trump administration, Chief Executive Officer Jakob Stausholm said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. His comments are the most candid about the aluminum industry since taking the helm of Rio at the start of 2021.

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To buy or not to buy: Russian aluminium dilemma for Europe’s buyers – by Joan Faus (Reuters – September 15, 2022)

BARCELONA, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Europe’s power crisis, production cuts and shortages of aluminium have left consumers in a quandary about Russian supplies of the metal vital for the region’s transport, construction and packaging industries.

Some are choosing to shun Rusal’s metal, while others are more sanguine – pointing to the fact that neither the company nor its metal is under sanctions imposed on other Russian companies after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

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U.S. step up Russian aluminium, nickel imports since Ukraine war – by Eric Onstad (Reuters – September 7, 2022)

LONDON, Sept 6 (Reuters) – The European Union and United States have ramped up buying key industrial metals from Russia, data showed, despite logistical problems spurred by the war in Ukraine and tough talk about starving Moscow of foreign exchange revenue.

The metal shipments highlight the West’s difficulty in pressuring Russia’s economy, which has performed better than expected and seen its rouble currency surge as buoyant oil revenue has helped offset the impact of sanctions.

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Metal plants feeding Europe’s factories face an existential crisis – by Mark Burton, Daniel Hornak and Jack Farchy (Bloomberg News – September 2022)

(Bloomberg) — In the aluminum industry, closing a smelter is an agonizing decision. Once power is cut and the production “pots” settle back to room temperature, it can take many months and tens of millions of dollars to bring them back online.

Yet Norsk Hydro ASA is preparing this month to do exactly that at a huge plant in Slovakia. And it’s not the only one — European production has dropped to the lowest levels since the 1970s and industry insiders say the escalating energy crisis is now threatening to create an extinction event across large swathes of the region’s aluminum production.

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Electric vehicle industry prizes steel over aluminum, Cleveland-Cliffs CEO says – by Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – August 22, 2022)

A Detroit automaker and US steel producer sparred at an industry gathering this week on whether steel or aluminum is the preferred metal for electric-vehicle bodies.

The top executive of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., the second largest US steelmaker, said that EV companies were preferring steel over aluminum. But an executive director from General Motors Co., the biggest US automaker, said there’s no broad brush.

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Europe’s Power Crunch Cuts Zinc and Aluminum Capacity in Half – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – July 20, 2022)

(Bloomberg) — Europe has lost about half of its zinc and aluminum smelting capacity within the past year, and a further surge in power prices could knock more plants offline over winter, the region’s biggest metal producers warned.

Eurometaux, which represents miners, smelters and fabricators employing 500,000 people in Europe, is underscoring the risks that lie ahead for the industry as the European Union urges member states to cut gas usage to avert a drastic escalation of the region’s energy crunch over the winter months.

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