The Australian aluminum industry has been operating in Australia for over 50 years, and throughout that time has been a significant contributor to the Australian economy. The industry currently consists of:
- 5 Bauxite mines
- 7 Alumina refineries
- 5 Aluminium smelters
- 12 Extrusion mills (19 presses)
- 2 Rolled product plants
Australia is the world’s leading producer of bauxite. In 2011, Australian bauxite production was 74.9 million tonnes (Mt) – up 5 per cent on the 71.5 Mt recorded for 2010.
Australian metallurgical grade alumina production in 2011 was 19.1 million tonnes and chemical grade alumina production was around 0.5 million tonnes. Australia maintained its position as the second largest producer of alumina in the world with 22 per cent of global production.
Australian primary aluminium metal production was 1.96 million tonnes in 2011 – marginally higher than the 1.94 Mt recorded in 2010 and 1.1 per cent lower than the industry peak of 1.98 Mt in 2008. 2011 saw the Australian smelting industry’s two year run as the fourth largest producer of primary aluminium come to an end, narrowly edged out by the United States smelting industry as they brought production back online to meet growing demand in their region. Australia was the fifth largest producer of aluminium in the world with around 4 per cent of the market.
As can be seen in the accompanying map most Australian aluminium operations are located in regional areas, thus providing substantial economic benefits to these areas and to the economy in general.
Employment in the bauxite, alumina and aluminium sectors of the industry is centred on regional areas reflecting the location of the main production facilities. In 2011 Australian bauxite, alumina and aluminium operations employed around 17,600 employees, of which 13,600 were directly employed (13,800 in 2010) and around 4,000 were contractors (3,000 in 2010).
Aluminium use in Australia is mainly in building and construction, transport and packaging applications, and is estimated to be around 450,000 t. The estimated capital replacement cost of Australian production capacity is over AUD$50 billion.