EghtesadOnline: Iran’s aluminum industry produced 400,481 tons of ingots during the current fiscal year’s first nine months (March 21-Dec. 21).
According to the latest data released by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization, the output is 23% higher than that in the corresponding period of last year.
Flagship producer Iran Aluminum Company (IRALCO) accounted for the highest portion of total output with 133,832 tons.
IRALCO is the top producer of aluminum in Iran. Inaugurated in 1972, the plant has an annual production capacity of 180,000 tons.
It was followed by South Aluminum Company (SALCO) with 127,232 tons, Almahdi Aluminum Company with 111,325 tons and Iran Alumina Company with 28,092 tons.
A total of 175,284 tons of alumina powder were produced by Iran Alumina Company in the nine-month period, the sole producer of alumina powder in Iran. The figure is 1% lower year-on-year.
Iran Alumina Company produced 677,604 tons of bauxite (raw materials for the production of alumina powder) during the period under review, indicating an 11% rise compared with 608,195 tons year-on-year.
The Iranian aluminum industry produced a record high of 446,800 tons of ingots during the last Iranian year (March 2020-21).
According to IMIDRO, the output was 61% higher than that in the year before, when producers' collective output amounted to 278,318 tons.
A total of 19,328 tons of alumina powder were produced by Iran Alumina Company last year, the sole producer of alumina powder in Iran. The number is 8% lower YOY.
The revival of three major factories, namely SALCO, Jajarm and Hormozal (affiliated with Almahdi Aluminum Company), is considered the main reason behind a rise in Iran's aluminum output last year.
However, the interference in pricing is a major problem in Iran's aluminum sector.
The combined nominal capacity of Iran's aluminum producers, namely Iran Aluminum Company located in Arak (Markazi Province), Almahdi and Hormozal in Bandar Abbas (Hormozgan Province) and the newly-inaugurated Jajarm Aluminum Complex located in Jajarm County (North Khorasan Province), stands at 468,000 tons per year.
According to Shahriar Taherpour, a former managing director of IMIDRO, Iran’s per capita aluminum consumption has been around 4.5 kilograms over the past 10 years against the global average of 9 kilograms.
The US and Canada are the biggest aluminum consumers in the world, with per capita rates of 23 and 27 kilograms respectively.
The Iranian aluminum industry’s biggest challenge currently revolves around supplying raw materials, including alumina and petroleum coke. Not having access to raw materials due to sanctions and also having to purchase them at prices much higher than global rates are posing problems for producers.
Plans are underway to connect aluminum production units to railroads and explore new bauxite mines to reduce costs.
Globally, 2020 was a year of turmoil for the aluminum industry, as consumption declined by 4.1% to 84.5 million tons and production surged over 65 million tons. The supply-demand gap was caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
AlCircle’s new comprehensive report on “Global Aluminum Industry Outlook 2021” forecasts the demand for aluminum to rise briskly at around 7.5% during 2021, riding on the back of a high growth rate in China and a rebound in other major markets across the world.
Demand for the metal is expected to move past the 90 million mark with improvements in global mobility and the release of pent-up demand as the year progresses.
While the industry is working toward sustainable alternatives such as low carbon/green aluminum and innovation of new technologies and alloys to bolster its position as the most sustainable metal in the world, aluminum produced through renewable energy sources is expected to gain greater importance this year and beyond.
On the end-user front, the use of aluminum is expected to reach normal levels in 2021, as operations resume across various end-user sectors. The packaging sector is estimated to continue growing and buoy aluminum demand, while the automobile industry is expected to reach pre-Covid levels during the third quarter of 2021.