The inclusion of bauxite, the aluminium-rich ore that is used for primary aluminium production, on the European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials list recognises the strategic importance of the aluminium industry in supporting Europe’s transition to a green and digital economy.
Thanks to its unique properties, aluminium has become the material of choice for clean technology producers in applications like renewable energy, batteries, electricity systems, resource-efficient packaging, energy-efficient buildings, and clean mobility.
Despite a projected increase in recycling, primary production will still be needed to meet the increasing demand for our metal. Global demand for primary aluminium alone is expected to increase by 50% in the next thirty years, so there is a clear need for the EU to develop an ambitious, responsible global sourcing strategy for bauxite. Today, Europe only produces around 10% of the bauxite it processes for its primary aluminium and its import reliance has worsened considerably in the last few years.
The risk of supply chain disruptions could be minimised by maintaining a resilient, autonomous, and complete European aluminium value chain. Increasing recycling and fostering the production of sustainable aluminium in Europe is essential. We expect the inclusion of bauxite in the critical raw materials list will increase political attention on our value chain and will foster new production capacity, both for primary and secondary aluminium.
Image courtesy of the International Aluminium Institute