The last issue of 2013 carries two exclusive interviews with senior players in the global aluminium industry. First is an interview, conducted in Abu Dhabi, with the CEO of Emirates Aluminium (Emal). Saeed Al Mazrooei believes that reducing the environmental impact of aluminium production is the key driver for all future smelter development, adding that Emal has worked on a pilot scheme to capture CO2 and convert it into energy. Where the environment, health and safety are concerned, Emal is making plenty of headway, ticking boxes in areas as diverse as celebrating the role of women in the smelter's development through to being recognised for its commitment to workplace safety, preserving local vegetation and enabling turtles to lay eggs on the beach adjacent to the smelter. "Safety is a journey you never stop," Al Mazrooei said.
In the USA, Alcoa's chief technology officer, Ray Kilmer, has plenty of positive things to say about the miracle metal. Aluminium International Today travelled to Pittsburgh to meet Ray at the Alcoa Technical Centre where aluminium's role in virtually everything was discussed including the well-known 'steel versus aluminium' argument. "If steel is going to compete with aluminium on a weight basis, it will have to rely upon dual-phase, high-strength steels," said Ray, adding that while steel still makes sense for floorboards and rocker panels on automobiles, but will need to be super-strong and super-thin. The problem, he added, was that when steel is made so thin it loses its stiffness. "For the same weight, you can get three times the stiffness from an aluminium application," he said.
Aluminium International Today was also in Geneva, attending Metal Bulletin's 28th International Aluminium Conference where Panthea Geramishoar, a senior expert in the non-ferrous metals department of IMIDRO (Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development & Renovation Organisation) discussed Iran's aluminium industry. Iran is the world's 18th largest economy and the country offers an abundance of cheap energy and access to 300 million people in the Caspian, Persian Gulf and Far East markets.
Our technical features this month focus upon grain refinement, rolling and furnaces and there's also our annual furnaces buyers' guide.
Last but not least is our regular Perspectives Q&A. This time round we persuaded Alex Lowery, general manager of Wise Chem to answer our difficult and penetrating questions.
Steve Demetriou, chief executive officer of USA-based Aleris, is the subject of this issue's exclusive interview. AIT flew out to Cleveland, Ohio, to meet Steve and hear all about Aleris' strategic growth initiative and how the company is primed and ready for exciting times ahead.
There are four Update articles on the USA, Russia, China and India and an article from the Boston Consulting Group. The company's latest aluminium industry report argues that aluminium companies, irrespective of their position along the value chain, will be forced to take a fundamentally new look at opportunities for quantum-leap improvements in cost reduction, capex management and commercial excellence.
Where technical articles are concerned, Alcoa's Stephen Lindsay writes about raw material impurities and the challenges ahead, while Fives Solios reviews boosted suction systems as part of this month's coverage on the environmental impact of aluminium smelting.
Sticking with the environment, Karine Desjardins of National EcoCredit in Canada writes about the voluntary carbon market, and Rio Tinto Alcan's Jerome Lucaes explains the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative and how aluminium is part of the solution for a sustainable future.
Dubal and Emal discuss the challenges they face in keeping the environmental impact of primary production to a bare minimum and we have an interesting article on how maritime dredging techniques are employed in on-shore surface bauxite mining.
Staff writer Sally Roberts discusses aluminium and aerospace and we have two excellent Perspectives Q&A articles from Danieli Corus and the UK-based Aluminium Federation (ALFED).
With news of the proposed merger between Dubal and Emal, two leading Gulf smelters, still fresh in people's minds, Aluminium International Today approached Abdulla Kalban, CEO of Dubal and soon to be the man at the top at Emirates Global Aluminium once the merger takes place next year.
Like most CEOs in the primary aluminium business, Kalban is optimistic for the light metal's global future, claiming that, even in Western Europe, national governments 'will work with the smelters in the region to provider reasonably-priced power contracts'. Shale gas, he said, would reduce the operating costs of smelters in the USA. "I believe that reasonable energy prices will apply worldwide," he said.
CRU's World Aluminium Conference 2013 was held in London and proved to be an interesting event, jam-packed with top-notch presentations from some of the industry's leading figures. In our conference review article we cover all the major papers, including those given by UC Rusal's deputy CEO Oleg Mukhamedshin, Alcoa's president of materials management, Tim Reyes, and Deutsche Bank's Xiao Fu. The big focus was China, for obvious reasons.
Myra Pinkham reports on American Metal Market's Aluminium Summit in New York where the big theme was scrap metal.
On the technical front, we travelled to Germany and Holland to visit Trimet and Hencon respectively to discuss the use of vehicles in a smelter environment. We also look at the principles of fuel economy and examine the best approach to improving the energy efficiency of gas and oil-fired furnaces for melting and holding aluminium.
John Courtenay, managing director of UK-based MQP, answers this month's Perspectives Q&A.