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Aluminum facts

Light, strong, flexible, non-corrosive and infinitely recyclable, aluminum is one of the most widely used and recycled metals in the world.

Key facts

  • Canada's primary aluminum production in 2019 was estimated at 2.85 million tonnes
  • Canada is the world's fourth-largest primary aluminum producer after China, India and Russia
  • By using mostly hydroelectricity and the latest generation of technologies, Canadian aluminum producers have the lowest carbon footprint in the world when compared to other large producers

Learn more about aluminum

Uses

The automotive and transportation industry relies on a variety of aluminum alloys in the manufacture of various components because of their lightness and durability, which reduce a vehicle’s weight and, in turn, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Aluminum is also widely used in:

  • construction, which relies on various aluminum products, from exterior siding to structural components
  • the electrical and electronics industries
  • packaging such as beverage cans and foils, which benefit from its infinite recyclability

Aluminum, global uses, 2019 (p)

Text version

This bar graph shows the major global uses of aluminum in 2019. The largest use was for automotive and transportation (26%), followed by construction (24%), foil and packaging (16%), electrical engineering and electronics (11%), machinery and equipment (11%), consumer goods (6%) and other applications (6%).

Production

Aluminum does not exist in a pure state in nature. The production of primary aluminum metal begins with bauxite ore, which is composed of hydrated aluminum oxide (40% to 60%) mixed with silica and iron oxide.

It takes approximately 4 to 5 tonnes of bauxite ore to produce 2 tonnes of alumina. In turn, it takes approximately 2 tonnes of alumina to produce 1 tonne of aluminum.

There are 10 primary aluminum smelters in Canada: one is located in Kitimat, British Columbia, and the other nine are in Quebec. There is also one alumina refinery, located in Jonquière, Quebec.

No bauxite is mined in Canada.

Canadian refinery and smelters, estimated capacity, 2019

Text version

This map shows the location of the alumina refinery and aluminum smelters in Canada. There is one alumina refinery (located in Quebec) and there are 10 aluminum smelters (one in Kitimat, British Columbia, and nine in Quebec). The largest smelter is the Alouette facility, located in Sept-Îles, Quebec, with a capacity of 602,000 tonnes per year. The ownership and capacity in tonnes per year of each facility are provided in the legend.

Canada's primary aluminum production in 2019 was estimated at 2.85 million tonnes, a decrease from 2.92 million tonnes in 2018. Using mostly hydroelectricity and the latest generation of technologies, Canadian aluminum producers have the lowest carbon footprint among the world's other large producers.

Canadian production of primary aluminum, 2010–2019 (p)

Text version

This bar graph shows Canada's annual primary aluminum production from 2010 to 2019. Canada produced approximately 2.96 million tonnes in 2010 and 2.85 million tonnes in 2019. Production varied from year to year between 2010 and 2019, with a minimum of 2.78 million tonnes in 2012 and a maximum of 3.21 million tonnes in 2017.

International context

World primary estimated aluminum production totaled just over 64.4 million tonnes in 2019. China was the world's largest producer with 36 million tonnes, followed by India, Russia, and Canada.

Find out more about aluminum production on an international scale:

Bauxite ore, by country
World production of bauxite ore, by country, 2019 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 Australia 100,000 27.3%
2 Guinea 82,000 22.4%
3 China 75,000 20.4%
4 Brazil 29,000 7.9%
5 India 26,000 7.1%
6 Indonesia 16,000 4.4%
7 Jamaica 8,900 2.4%
8 Russia 5,400 1.5%
  Other countries 24,500 6.7%
Total   366,800 100.0%
Alumina, by country
World production of alumina, by country, 2019 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 China 73,000 54.9%
2 Australia 20,000 15.1%
3 Brazil 8,900 6.7%
4 India 6,700 5.0%
5 Russia 2,700 2.0%
6 Jamaica 2,100 1.6%
7 Saudi Arabia 1,800 1.4%
8 United States 1,600 1.2%
9 Canada 1,500 1.1%
  Other countries 14,600 11.0%
Total   132,900 100.0%
Primary aluminum, by country
World production of primary aluminum, by country, 2019 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 China 36,000 55.9%
2 India 3,700 5.8%
3 Russia 3,600 5.6%
4 Canada 2,900 4.5%
5 United Arab Emirates 2,700 4.2%
6 Australia 1,600 2.5%
7 Bahrain 1,400 2.2%
8 Norway 1,300 2.0%
9 United States 1,100 1.7%
10 Iceland 850 1.3%
  Other countries 9,200 14.3%
Total   64,350 100.0%

World production of primary aluminum, 2010–2019 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world production of primary aluminum in millions of tonnes from 2010 to 2019. World production was 37.7 million tonnes in 2010. It trended steadily upward over the next decade to reach 64.4 million tonnes in 2019.

World reserves

In 2019, world reserves of bauxite ore were assessed at 30.4 billion tonnes.

World reserves of bauxite ore, by country, 2019 (p)

Text version

This bar graph shows the world reserves of bauxite ore by country in billions of tonnes for 2019. Guinea held the largest reserves, with 7.4 billion tonnes, followed by Australia (6.0 billion tonnes), Vietnam (3.7 billion tonnes), Brazil (2.6 billion tonnes), Jamaica (2.0 billion tonnes), Indonesia (1.2 billion tonnes) and other countries (7.5 billion tonnes).

Demand

Global demand for primary aluminum reached an estimated 65.6 million tonnes in 2019, representing less than a 0.2% increase compared with the revised 2018 value of 65.5 million tonnes. World aluminum demand grew at an average annual rate of 4.1% between 2014 and 2019, largely supported by increased demand in China and key sectors such as construction and transportation.

China accounted for the largest share of global aluminum consumption by region in 2019, followed by North America, Asia and Europe.

Primary aluminum demand, by region, 2019 (p)

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This circular chart shows the estimated demand for primary aluminum by region as the percentage of total demand for 2019. China accounted for the largest percentage of global demand (56.5%), followed by Europe (13.8%), Asia (excluding China) (12.3%), North America (10.0%), Latin America (1.9%) and other countries (5.5%).

Trade

Exports

Canadian exports of aluminum products were valued at $11.2 billion in 2019, a decrease of $1.9 billion over 2018. Of this amount:

  • $7.1 billion was unwrought alloyed and non-alloyed aluminum
  • $885 million was aluminum waste and scrap
  • $580 million was aluminum plates, sheets and strip

The United States was Canada's largest export destination for aluminum products, accounting for 85.3% of total aluminum export trade, followed by the Netherlands (4.7%), Mexico (3.8%), China (1.8%) and South Korea (0.9%).

Imports

Canada's total imports of aluminum products were valued at $7.6 billion in 2019, a decrease of $1.2 billion over 2018. Approximately 60.0% of imports were semi-fabricated and fabricated aluminum products.

Imports came from the United States (43.9%), Brazil (20.2%), China (12.2%), Australia (5.7%) and Germany (2.1%).

Prices

Global demand for aluminum showed a slight decline in 2019, reflected by lower prices during the year with a slight regain from mid-year.

Aluminum prices, monthly average, 2010–2019

Text version

This line graph shows the monthly average price of aluminum in US dollars per tonne from 2010 to 2019, taken from the IndexMundi exchange. In 2019, the average monthly prices were: January, $1,853.72; February, $1,862.99; March, $1,871.21; April, $1,845.42; May, $1,781.26; June, $1,755.95; July, $1,796.99; August, $1,740.68; September, $1,753.51; October, $1,725.96; November, $1,774.79 and December, $1,771.38. The 2019 yearly average price was $1,794.49.

Recycling

The intensity of aluminum use in transportation is rising as its unique properties and recyclability fit the world's needs in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Aluminum is infinitely recyclable, making it one of the most recycled metals in the world. More than 90% of the aluminum used in automotive and construction applications is recycled, driving a closed-loop circular economy.

Secondary aluminum production requires 95% less energy than primary aluminum production.

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

Totals may be different because of rounding.

Uses

  • Aluminum, global uses, 2019 (p)
    • Wood Mackenzie, 2019, Statista 2019

Production

  • Canadian refinery and smelters, estimated capacity, 2019
    • Natural Resources Canada; company websites
  • Canadian production of primary aluminum, 2010–2019 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada

International context

  • World production of bauxite ore, by country, 2019 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • World production of alumina, by country, 2019 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • World production of primary aluminum, by country, 2019 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • World production of primary aluminum, 2010–2019 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • World reserves of bauxite ore, by country, 2019 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Primary aluminum demand, by region, 2019 (p)
    • Wood MacKenzie

Trade

  • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
    • Mineral trade includes ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products

Prices

  • Aluminum prices, monthly average, 2010–2019
    • IndexMundi
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