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Think-Tank To Focus On Aluminium Industry Sustainability

The aluminium industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy.
by Staff Writers
Melbourne, Australia (SPX) Oct 13, 2006
Highlighting the role of research in keeping Australia's aluminium industry sustainable - economically as well as environmentally - will be the focus of a two-day industry forum commencing today in Melbourne. The forum will provide an opportunity for key people from industry, the research community and government to discuss the role of innovation in helping Australian producers compete in an increasingly competitive global market.

Australia is the world's leading producer of bauxite and alumina, and the fifth largest producer of primary aluminium metal.

The aluminium industry is a significant contributor to the economy, with exports valued at around $4 billion. Metal production from Australia's six smelters is at recorded levels.

However, the world scene is changing fast, with the installation of new primary aluminium production capacity in China, the Middle East and Russia.

"Energy is a major constraint to expanding aluminium production capacity," says Dr Raj Rajakumar, Director of Light Metals Flagship, which is hosting the forum.

"Electricity accounts for an estimated 28 per cent of smelter operating costs. For producers in Australia, innovation is the key to remaining sustainable and globally competitive.

"One of the goals of the Light Metals Flagship is to work with industry in reducing the energy required to produce aluminium by 30 per cent over the coming decade."

Peter Herd, Technical Superintendent, Tomago Aluminium, says that energy costs and availability are just a few of the challenges facing the Australian industry.

"As new overseas capacity comes on line, it normally does so with reduced operating costs," he says. "How can Australian producers reduce their costs to compete with these new smelters so that we are not priced out of operation?

"We also need to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and the disposal of the waste streams generated by a smelter. How can we cost-effectively extract valuable products from waste streams and reduce the overall cost of processing waste products?

"We have to do more with what we have - for example, minimising impurities in raw materials and extracting maximum value from every unit of a raw material.

"Technology can help in all these areas. It will help us to finely tune the production process to reduce the use of raw materials.

"We need to utilise this by being more innovative and precise in our operations to compete with regions that have lower labour costs.""It will also enable us to develop processes to recover waste energy and value from waste streams.

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Beijing (XNA) Oct 09, 2006
China's economic growth poses no threat to the global energy supply, Long Yongtu, general secretary of the Bo'ao Asian Forum and China's former chief negotiator at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has said. "The notion of a Chinese threat to the global energy supply reflects fears about China's rise on the part of some Westerners," Long said Saturday in Beijing at an international forum on China's energy strategy.

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