Sustainable Growth

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

South Africa's aluminium value chain and climate change compatibility

Written by 

  • Year: 2022
  • Organisation: TIPS
  • Author(s): Lerato Monaisa, Gaylor Montmasson-Clair
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

Aluminium is the most used non-ferrous metal worldwide. Its multiple properties (lightweight, non-corrosive, high thermal and electrical conductivity, low density, non-toxic, non-magnetic) make it a versatile multiuse metal. Aluminium is used in various sectors, most prominently in transport, construction, consumer goods, packaging and machinery and equipment. The production of primary aluminium is, however, extremely energy-intensive. Globally, the industry is responsible for 2% of human-caused GHG emissions. The production of aluminium requires large amounts of electricity and as such relies on the availability of an affordable, reliable electricity supply. Depending on the energy sources used to power aluminium smelters, this comes with high environmental impacts, notably GHG emissions. This paper provides an overview of the South African aluminium value chain. It covers the socio-economic and environmental contributions of the industry and outlines its performance in GHG emissions, energy efficiency and carbon intensity. It then looks at the avenues for moving towards climate change compatibility and presents the potential future of aluminium in South Africa.

Policy Brief: Hillside Aluminium: Low-carbon energy options and the implications