Aluminium is remarkable for the metal's low density and for its ability to resist corrosion. It is the most widely used non-ferrous metal and is almost always alloyed, which markedly improves its mechanical properties, especially when tempered. The common aluminium foils and beverage cans are alloys of 92% to 99% aluminium. The main alloying agents are copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and silicon. The chief ore of aluminium is bauxite.

Bauxite, an aluminium ore and ithe main source of aluminium. This form of rock consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al(OH)3boehmite γ-AlO(OH), and diaspore α-AlO(OH), in a mixture with the two iron oxides goethite and haematite, the clay mineral kaolinite, and small amounts of anatase TiO2
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China increased its alumina capacity by 60% in 2006, or about 22% of world alumina supply, according to Standard & Poor research. It is estimated that it will nearly double by the end of 2008 and anticipated that China will achieve self-sufficiency in alumina production in 2009.From 2000 to 2014, China’s share of global aluminum consumption went to 47 percent from 13 percent.

RankCountryWorld Production, By Country (Thousand metric tons) in 2009
2Russian Federation3,8153815
5United States1,727.161727.16198730469
9United Arab Emirates1,009.771009.77197265625
11South Africa809809
22New Zealand271271
24United Kingdom253253
26Iran, Islamic Republic Of250250
32Bosnia and Herzegovina9696
Year of Estimate: 2009

The standard Boeing 747 jumbo jet contains approximately 75,000 kg of aluminium.
  • The Rusal-SUAL-Glencore merger, United Company Rusal, created the world’s largest aluminium and alumina producer with operations in 17 countries on 5 continents. They produce 3,9 million tonnes of aluminium per annum from 10,6 million tonnes of alumina and have 12,5% of the global aluminium market and 16% of global aluminium production. Sual operates the North-Ural and Timan bauxite mines in Russia and produces 4,5 million t per annum for its 12 refineries and smelters. (See Rio Tinto's subsequent acquisition of Alcan below.) [more]
  • Alcoa Inc used 40,6 million tons of bauxite in 2004 of which 31 million tons came from own reserves and 9,6 million tons from other sources. Own operations are in
  • Australia - Darling Range Mines
  • Brazil - Poços de Caldas
  • Guinea - Boke
  • Jamaica - Clarendon/Manchester Plateau
  • Suriname - Lelydorp
  • Suriname - Coermotibo
Alcoa announced on May 7, 2007, that it would make a $27 billion bid for Alcan Inc. after discussions between the two companies failed to lead to a deal. The bid of $73.25 per share in cash and stock represented a 32 percent premium to Alcan's average closing price on the New York Stock Exchange over the previous 30 trading days.
  • Alcan owns, operates or has an interest in seven bauxite mines and deposits, including deposits in the bauxite-rich countries of Australia, Brazil and Guinea. (It takes four to five tonnes of bauxite, depending on the ore’s quality, to produce about two tonnes of alumina, which in turn yield one tonne of aluminum.) It also owns, operates or has an interest in a total of 11 smelter-grade alumina refineries and specialty alumina plants around the world. It produces 9,4% of the world's aluminium. Alcan and Saudi Arabian state-owned mining company Ma'aden signed a deal in April 2007 to develop a US$7-billion aluminum "mine-to-metal" project in Saudi Arabia, including bauxite mining, alumina refining, power generation and aluminum smelting. Alcan will hold a 49 per cent stake in the project and provide technology and operating management support, with Ma'aden holding 51 per cent.The initial operations feature a power plant delivering 1,400 megawatts; a 90-million-tonne bauxite reserve in Az Zabirah, northern Saudi Arabia, representing a potential 30 years of mining; an alumina refinery with a capacity of 1,600 thousand tonnes per year; and an aluminum smelter with a capacity of 720,000 tonnes per year.
  • Aluminium Corporation of China Ltd (CHALCO) is the only producer of alumina and the largest producer of primary aluminum in China, with approximately 4,3 million tonnes of aluminium products (including aluminium, aluminium hydrate and aluminium chemicals) in 2000. The company supplied approximately 70% of all aluminium products consumed in China in that year which made them the third largest producer of aluminium in the world.
  • Rio Tinto operates the Weipa mine in Queensland, Australia, and produced 15,474 million t of bauxite in 2005. The company owns or has an interest in refineries and smelters in Australia, New Zealand, Sardinia and the UK. Rio Tinto has agreed to buy Canada's Alcan Inc. for $38.1 billion to create the world's biggest aluminum producer, the two firms said on 12 July, 2007.
  • Norsk Hydro (Norwegian State-43%) produced 1,8 million tonnes of primary aluminium in 2005 or 4% of global production.
  • BHP Billiton is the world's sixth largest producer of primary aluminum, with a total operating capacity in excess of one million tonnes of aluminum, approximately 14 million tonnes of bauxite and four million tonnes of alumina per annum. In August 2006, BHP Billiton plc completed the sale of its 45.5% interest in the Valesul Aluminio SA joint venture to its joint venture partner, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. In April 2007, the Company acquired a 33.3% interest in Global Alumina's Sangaredi Refinery Project in Guinea, West Africa.
  • Bosai Minerals Group (Nanchuan Minerals Group) bid US$60 million to win an auction for bauxite mines in Guyana, in South America. The purchase of a controlling stake in Omai Bauxite Mining from Canada's Cambior Inc. would make Bosai, based in the western city of Chongqing, the world's biggest producer of calcined bauxite.

Companies mining bauxite or producing aluminium in Africa

  • Abu Dhabi state-owned conglomerate Moubadala Development Company and Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), will hold a majority stake of 70% and Sonatrach and Sonelgaz, two state-owned companies, 30%, in the biggest aluminium plant in North Africa. Under the terms of the contract, which has been concluded as a partnership agreement, the project will be developed near Beni Saf in the region of Ain Temouchent. The project should take about four years to complete, with the plant set to be operational by 2011. Plans also call for the construction of a thermal plant with a 2000MW capacity, a water desalination plant as well as a harbour capable of dealing with 1,75 million tonnes of raw materials per year.
  • BHP Billiton is investigating a bauxite deposit in the country's southwest Bas-Congo province, near the Inga hydropower station on the Congo river with the view of opening up a mine and refinery. BHP Billiton already produces aluminum at refineries in South Africa and Mozambique, where it secured cheap supplies of power from Eskom.

The country has reserves exceeding 25 billion metric t of bauxite or approximately half the known world reserves. Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea historically provide about 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG) is the main figure in the bauxite industry. CBG is a joint venture, in which 49% of the shares are owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million metric tons of high-grade bauxite every year. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million t annually, nearly all of which is exported to Russia and Eastern Europe. Dian Dian, a Guinean/Ukrainian joint bauxite venture, has a projected production rate of 1 million t per year, but is not expected to begin operations for several years. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2.4 million t of bauxite in 2004, which is used as raw material for its alumina refinery. Both Global Alumina and Alcoa-Alcan have signed conventions with the Government of Guinea to build large alumina refineries with a combined capacity of about 4 million t per year.

Alcoa is present in Guinea as a 45% shareholder of Halco Mining, a partnership which owns 51% of Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG). CBG, a partnership with the Government of Guinea, has exclusive rights to mine bauxite in Guinea's Sangaredi Plateau. In addition to mining in Sangaredi, CBG operates a port in Kamsar for drying and shipping bauxite to refineries worldwide.
Global Alumina Corporation is negotiating to form a joint venture to develop and operate the company's 2,8 million tonne alumina refinery project in the Republic of Guinea with the BHP Billiton group , Dubai Aluminium Company Limited (DUBAL) and Mubadala Development Company PJSC . DUBAL is the owner of one of the largest single site aluminum smelters in the western world. It is wholly owned by the Dubai government and produces and exports primary aluminum products to more than 40 countries world-wide. Canada-based Global Alumina Corp. would retain a one-third stake in the refinery, which is due to start production early in 2009. The Sangaredi Refinery project involves construction of a three million tonne/year alumina refinery, a nine million tonne/year bauxite mine, and associated infrastructure. Global Alumina retains a 33.3% stake with Dubai Aluminium and Mubadala Development Company owning 25% and 8.3% respectively.

  • Ghana Bauxite Company Ltd (Alcan-8O%) mines at Awaso in the Birim Valley at a rate of 1 million t per year.
  • Alcoa Inc is the Ghana Government's chosen partner for the VALCO Integrated Aluminium Project.
  • E C Meikles (Pty) Ltd of Zimbabwe mines at Monte Snuta at an estimated rate of 12 000 t per year.
  • RUSAL has signed a share purchase agreement to acquire a majority stake in the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Akwa Ibom from the Nigerian Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). The $250 million transaction will add almost 150,000 tonnes annually to RUSAL's aluminium production capacity.
Sierra Leone: Government Suspends Exploration Licences
January 17, 2007
Minister of Mineral Resources, Alhaji Mohamed Swaray-Deen told the Concord Times newspaper in an interview that government has decided to suspend further issuance of exploration and prospecting licences to potential and non performing companies.
Swaray-Deen explained that President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah recently reached an understanding with the government of the People's Republic of China to carry out exploration of all minerals in the country. "We will not issue out new licences for now. We will only renew exploration and prospecting licences to companies that have performed satisfactorily well.
Mining companies like Sierra Minerals and Koidu Holdings Ltd. will continue their work unhindered, Swaray-Deen said, adding that the Chinese were in the country and had already taken mineral samples for analysis.
"The next step will depend on the result of this analysis. Our aim is to create a data bank of all minerals in the country," he explained and reiterated that all companies that have performed satisfactorily well would be allowed to continue their work.
  • Sierra Leone Ore and Metal Company mines at Mokanji at a rate of 1,5 million t per year.

South Africa

  • BHP's Hillside and Bayside aluminium smelters in SA and the Mozal smelter in Mozambique together produced 1.163 million metric tons of aluminium in the financial year ended June 2007.
  • Rio Tinto planned a US$2.7bn aluminium smelter at Coega.