Many forecasters are predicting a gloomy prospect ahead for the aluminium smelting industry. Rising costs of maintaining existing furnaces and the immense expense of installing new ones are frequently cited as a major factor. The last few years has seen the closure of the United Kingdom’s main smelting factories at Anglesey and Lynemouth who produced a combined output of more than 300,000 tons. Lynemouth in particular was recognised throughout the world of aluminium smelting as one of the most efficient users of energy. This now leaves a single plant at Lochaber in Scotland to continue producing around 40,000 tons each year. Investment in aluminium smelting and production in the UK is sadly lacking yet the use of aluminium continues to be on the increase for a number of reasons.
Aluminium has an versatility that many other metals lack. It is strong, durable and lightweight. One of the main areas for growth is in the car industry where it is proving invaluable in the fight to cut global carbon emissions by producing vehicles that need less fuel to power their new, lightweight bodywork. The construction industry relies heavily on aluminium. Iconic architectural structures from multi-storey buildings to sports stadiums use vast quantities of aluminium within their fabric. Designers use it extensively to create interiors that will withstand the hardest wear and tear. The aluminium window frame industry annually generates an estimated three billion or more in revenue and is currently experiencing a growth of almost five percent.
A Green Forecast
Environmental concerns have prompted many industries to re-evaluate their use of energy and raw materials. Aluminium is constantly hailed as one of the greenest metals with its ability to be recycled even after a lifetime of use. The aluminium content that was extracted during the demolition of the old Wembley Stadium in 2002 was successfully recycled at a rate of 95% even though it had been in situ since 1923. The aluminium in today’s super structures will eventually be regenerated but not for a century or two. Recycling of this versatile metal uses just 5% of the energy it takes to produce brand new mill finish aluminium.
The price of aluminium on the Stock Market reached a peak this year (2018) during April and has since steadily fallen. Manufacturing aluminium products with companies such as Edmolooks set to have an even more cost effective appeal than ever.