Language selection

Search

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 produced an estimated 3.12 million tonnes of primary aluminum in 2020.
  • Canada is the world's fourth-largest primary aluminum producer following 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, 2020 (p)

Aluminum, global uses, 2020 (p)
Text version

This bar graph shows the major global uses of aluminum in 2020. The largest use was for construction (25%), followed by automotive and transportation (23%), foil and packaging (17%), electrical engineering and electronics (12%), 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, 2020

Canadian refinery and smelters, estimated capacity, 2020
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 production level of 623,000 tonnes per year. The ownership and production level in tonnes per year of each facility are provided in the legend.

Canada's primary aluminum production is estimated to have reached 3.12 million tonnes in 2020, up 9% from 2.85 million tonnes in 2019. Using mostly hydroelectricity and the latest generation of technologies, Canadian aluminum producers have the lowest carbon footprint among the world's largest producers.

Canadian production of primary aluminum, 2011–2020 (p)

Canadian production of primary aluminum, 2011–2020 (p)
Text version

This bar graph shows Canada's annual primary aluminum production from 2011 to 2020. Canada produced approximately 3.0 million tonnes in 2011 and 3.12 million tonnes in 2020. Production varied from year to year between 2011 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 aluminum production is estimated to have been 65.3 million tonnes in 2020. China was the world's largest producer with 37 million tonnes, followed by India, Russia, and Canada.

Find out more about the leading global producers:

Bauxite ore, by country
World production of bauxite ore, by country, 2020 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 Australia 110,000 29.6%
2 Guinea 82,000 22.1%
3 China 60,000 16.2%
4 Brazil 35,000 9.4%
5 Indonesia 23,000 6.2%
6 India 22,000 5.9%
7 Jamaica 7,700 2.1%
8 Russia 6,100 1.6%
  Other countries 25,300 6.7%
Total   371,100 100.0%
Alumina, by country
World production of alumina, by country, 2020 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 China 74,000 54.1%
2 Australia 21,000 15.4%
3 Brazil 9,600 7.0%
4 India 6,700 4.9%
5 Russia 2,800 2.0%
6 Saudi Arabia 1,800 1.3%
7 Jamaica 1,700 1.2%
8 Canada 1,500 1.1%
9 United States 1,300 1.0%
  Other countries 16,360 12.0%
Total   136,760 100.0%
Primary aluminum, by country
World production of primary aluminum, by country, 2020 (p)
Ranking Country Thousand tonnes Percentage of total
1 China 37,000 56.7%
2 India 3,600 5.5%
3 Russia 3,600 5.5%
4 Canada 3,118 4.8%
5 United Arab Emirates 2,670 4.0%
6 Australia 1,600 2.5%
7 Bahrain 1,500 2.3%
8 Norway 1,400 2.1%
9 United States 1,100 1.7%
10 Iceland 840 1.3%
  Other countries 9,000 13.8%
Total   65,258 100.0%

World production of primary aluminum, 2011–2020 (p)

World production of primary aluminum, 2011–2020 (p)
Text version

This bar graph shows the world production of primary aluminum in millions of tonnes from 2011 to 2020. World production was 42.4 million tonnes in 2011. It trended steadily upward over the next decade to reach 65.3 million tonnes in 2020.

World reserves

In 2020, world reserves of bauxite ore were 29.7 billion tonnes.

World reserves of bauxite ore, by country, 2020 (p)

World reserves of bauxite ore, by country, 2020 (p)
Text version

This bar graph shows the world reserves of bauxite ore by country in billions of tonnes for 2020. Guinea held the largest reserves, with 7.4 billion tonnes, followed by Australia (5.1 billion tonnes), Vietnam (3.7 billion tonnes), Brazil (2.7 billion tonnes), Jamaica (2.0 billion tonnes), Indonesia (1.2 billion tonnes) and other countries (7.6 billion tonnes).

Demand

Global demand for primary aluminum reached an estimated 64.0 million tonnes in 2020, representing less than a 2.1% decrease compared with the 2019 quantity of 65.4 million tonnes. World aluminum demand grew at an average annual rate of 2.4% between 2015 and 2020, 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 2020, followed by Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America.

Primary aluminum demand, by region, 2020 (p)

Primary aluminum demand, by region, 2020 (p)
Text version

This circular chart shows the estimated demand for primary aluminum by region in 2020. China accounted for the largest percentage of global demand (58.7%), followed by Europe (14.0%), Asia (excluding China) (11.4%), North America (9.2%), Latin America (1.7%) and other countries (5.0%).

Trade

Exports

Canadian exports of aluminum products were valued at $11.3 billion in 2020, an increase of $108 million over 2019. Of this amount:

  • $7.3 billion was unwrought alloyed and non-alloyed aluminum
  • $840 million was aluminum waste and scrap
  • $545 million was aluminum plates, sheets and strip

The United States was Canada's largest export destination for aluminum products, accounting for 84.1% of total aluminum export trade, followed by the Netherlands (8.0%), Mexico (22.6%), China (0.8%) and South Korea (0.7%).

Imports

Canada's total imports of aluminum products were valued at $7.1 billion in 2020, a decrease of $500 million over 2019. Semi-fabricated and fabricated aluminum products accounted for 64% of Canada’s aluminum imports in 2020.

Imports came from the United States (42.5%), Brazil (21.5%), China (14.2%), Australia (4.2%) and Germany (2.0%).

Prices

Global demand for aluminum showed a slight decline in 2020, affected by COVID-19 and reflected by lower prices mid-year. Prices quickly recovered in the second half of the year as activities recovered in some parts of the world.

Aluminum prices, monthly average, 2011–2020

Aluminum prices, monthly average, 2011–2020
Text version

This line graph displays variations of the monthly average price of aluminum in US dollars per tonne from 2011 to 2020. Prices were at their highest in early 2011 at $2,678, but gradually declined to a low of $1,467 in late 2015. Prices subsequently recovered and increased to $2,300 by mid-2018 before trending back down to $1,770 in late 2019. In 2020, prices initially dropped to a low of $1,460 in April, but gradually increased for the rest of the year, up to $2,015 in December.

Recycling

The intensity of aluminum use in transportation is rising as its unique properties (e.g. light weight and strength) and recyclability contribute to 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, 2020 (p)
    • Wood Mackenzie, 2020

Production

  • Canadian refinery and smelters, estimated capacity, 2020
    • Natural Resources Canada; company websites; Wood Mackenzie
  • Canadian production of primary aluminum, 2011–2020 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada, Statistics Canada; Wood Mackenzie

International context

  • World production of bauxite ore, by country, 2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • World production of alumina, by country, 2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • World production of primary aluminum, by country, 2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey; Wood Mackenzie
  • World production of primary aluminum, 2011–2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey; Wood Mackenzie; Statista
  • World reserves of bauxite ore, by country, 2020 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Primary aluminum demand, by region, 2020 (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, 2011–2020
    • The World Bank, Pink Sheets
    • Aluminum (LME) London Metal Exchange, unalloyed primary ingots, high grade, minimum 99.7% purity, settlement price
Report a problem on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: