09 June 2022

Essential role of aluminium in a decarbonised world

Mining Club May Luncheon 227The essential role aluminium will play in a decarbonised world was stressed by Alcoa of Australia President Michael Gollshewski during a recent address to the WA Mining Club.

According to Mr Gollschewski, Alcoa and aluminium are part of the solution in the global shift towards renewables and the slowing of climate change.

“Alcoa invented the aluminium industry more than 135 years ago and today our vision is to reinvent the industry for a sustainable future,” Mr Gollschewski said.

“At Alcoa how we make our products is just as important as what we make. Consumers are demanding more sustainable products and businesses are seeking opportunities to reduce the carbon impacts of their supply chains.

“Sustainability is no longer a strategic consideration - it’s a strategic imperative.”

As Alcoa approaches 60 years of operations in Western Australia next year, Mr Gollschewski reflected on the origins of the company when 22-year-old inventor Charles Martin Hall discovered the smelting process while working in a shed at his family’s home.

“That discovery launched an industry that made aluminium an affordable and vital part of modern everyday life,” he said.

“Because aluminium is lightweight, strong, highly durable and 100 per cent recyclable it has many applications including packaging, automotives, electric vehicles, aeronautics, medical equipment, solar power, LED lighting and ION batteries.

“Apple has used Alcoa’s low carbon aluminium for a model of the MacBook Pro and in March we announced it will use it in the new iPhone SE.”

Mr Gollschewski acknowledged Alcoa’s social license to operate depended on its ability to understand and respect the values of the people in the host communities where it operates including their care for the environment and concerns about climate change.

“We respect the privilege of operating in the world’s only naturally occurring jarrah forest in WA,” he said.

“Our depth of scientific knowledge and decades long efforts to restore the jarrah forest and the conservation of fauna and ecological communities is testament to that commitment.”

Alcoa operates two bauxite mines and three alumina refineries in Kwinana, Peel and the Upper South West. It does not mine in gazetted national parks, nature conservation reserves, old growth forest or other areas of high conservation value.