A new agreement signed between Capral Aluminum and Tomago Aluminium, Australia’s largest aluminum smelter, will pave the way for Australian manufacturers to access low-carbon aluminium. The first of its kind in Australia, this industry-leading deal will see Capral supply approximately 550 tonnes of production waste per year to Tomago for remelting.
“As far as we know this is the first commercial arrangement of post-production aluminum scrap to be remelted in Australia and we are very pleased to be working on this with the Tomago Aluminum team,” said Luke. Hawkins, general manager. – supply and industrial solutions at Capral.
Aluminum smelting represents the secondary recycling of aluminum, as opposed to the primary raw extraction of aluminum from bauxite. The aluminum is remelted in aluminum remelting furnaces and recycled into new products.
While aluminum scrap has long been collected for recycling in Australia, until recently Australian aluminum smelters had limited capacity for safe and successful remelting. Over 95% of Australian aluminum scrap is exported for recycling with major buyers located in South Korea and Indonesia in addition to markets in European countries and India. In 2020, Australian exporters reported that 119,075 tonnes of aluminum were shipped overseas, an increase of 25.13% over the previous year..
“Australian customers are demanding access to more sustainable aluminum and we need to make changes as an industry to meet this. For Capral, this means working closely with our suppliers to ensure we have access to Australian aluminum with recycled content,” said Hawkins.
Capral is Australia’s largest producer and distributor of aluminum products with six manufacturing plants across Australia, extruding aluminum for use in a diverse range of industrial, manufacturing and construction applications.
Under the agreement, production waste from Capral’s extrusion plant in Penrith will be baled and sent to Tomago to be remelted and added to new aluminum products, including billets.
“The offcuts we provide will be offcuts generated during the extrusion process; the aluminum billet used by our Penrith factory is supplied by Tomago, which means they are able to ensure that the alloy of the scrap is known, which is essential for the remelting process. Generally, aluminum smelters have limited remelting capacity. This is due to safety and process related contamination risks. We worked closely with Tomago to define this arrangement to ensure that we provide scrap content, which is valuable to Tomago and capable of being recast successfully and safely,” explained Hawkins.
Aluminum production in Australia relies heavily on coal-fired electricity to power the process. For aluminum smelters like Tomago Aluminium, the production line never stops. While Australian aluminum smelters currently use around 14% of the electricity produced by our national energy gridthey strive to reduce the energy intensity of their process and use clean energy sources.
Tomago Aluminum uses approximately 10% of New South Wales’ electricity supply to produce 590,000 tonnes of aluminum per year.
Commenting on the agreement, Tomago Aluminum CEO Matt Howell said, “We are delighted to be able to close the loop for Capral and Tomago in a true cradle-to-market aluminum alloy supply and recycling agreement. the fall “. Even better, the product made in NSW is now recycled in NSW. As global supply chains experience significant disruption and the carbon footprint is increasingly considered, these new agreements do not require international shipping through already congested ports.
“The recycling of aluminum alloys at Tomago requires very little electricity and uses a tiny fraction of the energy needed to produce primary aluminium. Often the raw aluminum from our potlines needs to be cooled from ~950 degrees to ~720 degrees to be processed by the cast products department and having clean, dry extrusion scrap is an ideal way to do this.
Aluminum can be recycled almost endlessly, making it an incredibly durable material. Recycling aluminum requires up to 95% less energy than producing from ore, avoiding emissions including greenhouse gases.
“This is a critical and important step for Capral and Tomago Aluminium; call this the first significant step towards the development of local circularity for Capral. We are delighted to embark on this journey with such a progressive and committed supplier and look forward to developing opportunities to create a local market for low carbon aluminum in Australia,” added Hawkins.
 Australian Aluminum Council – Australian Recycling Market 2021
 https://australiainstitute.org.au “Subsidies to the aluminum industry and climate change”
 https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/ “Material Fact Sheets – Aluminum”