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Aluminium Market Dynamics in South America

Contributed by: Anonymous
August 19, 2021

South America is one of those continents where aluminium industry is not growing as compared to other continents like Asia or Middle East. Unlike North America or Europe where domestic demand has been growing and the internal dynamics of the aluminium industry has been changing from primary production to secondary production and recycling, South America has been a continent where primary production has significantly fallen over the last few decades and domestic demand has also not picked up. The political instability and lack of development can be attributed as the main reason behind this.


In 2010, primary aluminium production in South America was 2304 thousand metric tonnes, which accounted for 5% of the global aluminium production. If we compare other continents, ME was producing only 18% more primary aluminium than South America in 2010. In the next 5 years, primary aluminium production has significantly de-grown (by 43%) and in 2015, South America produced only 1325 thousand metric tonnes, which accounted for only 2% of the global production. By 2020, this further decreased and in 2020, they have produced only 1006 thousand metric tonnes. South America currently produces only ~1% of the global aluminium production.


South America has been historically been a major contributor in alumina production globally. However, the recent trends are indicating that alumina production also is de-growing in the continent and the contribution is decreasing. In 2010, globally 90500 thousand metric tonnes of alumina were produced, out of which South America contributed nearly 15%. In 2020, global alumina production was 134432 thousand metric tonnes, of which South America contributed only 9% (11780 thousand metric tonnes). In the last 10 years, the continent has seen ~15% de-growth in alumina production.


The producers of Primary Aluminum in South America are Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela. Brazil has always been the most dominant player in this continent, currently Brazil stands at 14th position globally in terms of primary aluminium production, with 650+ thousand metric tonnes of annual production. Earlier Venezuela used to be the 2nd most important country in South American aluminium industry, however due to economic and political situation, their overall production has gone down drastically over the years and currently they stand at 31st position in terms of aluminium output. Argentina has grown over the past two decades and now stands 2nd in South America and 18th globally, with ~450 thousand tonnes of production.



Aluar is the only aluminium smelter in Argentina and one of the largest in South America. The company has 4 verticals – primary aluminium, fabricated products, energy and engineering services. More than 80 percent of Aluar's primary aluminium production is exported to other countries. Rest of it caters to the domestic demand in the Argentinian and other South American market. The growth of aluminium production in Argentina is primarily due to Aluar.


Companhia Brasileira de Aluminio (CBA) is the largest aluminium producer in Brazil having a total annual production of around 480,000 tonnes. Established on June 4, 1955, CBA was the first aluminium plant in Brazil producing 4.000 tonnes/year. In next 50 years, the company has grown its production 100 times. CBA is also into the bauxite mining business and the company is constantly investing in new business lines to grow. In 2020, they have acquired the Itapissuma Unit (PE), which expands the production capacity of aluminum sheets and sheets, positioning the Company even more competitively in the market.


Albras Alumínio Brasileiro S.A. is the second-largest aluminium producer in Brazil having a total annual production of around 460,000 tonnes. It is a joint venture between Norsk Hydro (51%) and Nippon Amazon Aluminium Co. Ltd. (NAAC) (49%). The company is supplied with the electric energy it needs (700 MW) from the Tucurui Hydroelectric Plant (4,000 MW).