A quarter of the primary aluminium the Italian companies need comes from Russia. This growing trend has increased by almost 3 times over the last 10 years and there is no sign of slowdown, especially at present since Russia is decarbonising its aluminium production. This topic has been dealt with during the first Italian-Russian Aluminium Forum – the two-day event organized by Metef (the expo dedicated to aluminium) and the Russian Aluminium Association – ended today and that has brought together associations, technical operators, designers as well as Italian and Russian entrepreneurs. The core of the debate was the relationship between the two countries in connection with this light metal, which is strategic to the Italian industries.
“The trade relations with Russia are and will increasingly be strategic for Europe and Italy since they’re historically in dramatic need of unwrought aluminium. Europe lacks 75% of this raw material while Italy reaches as much as 100%. Russia is committed to produce carbon-free aluminium aiming at hitting the NET 0 target by 2050 and, sailing in this wake, Europe has stepped into the ambitious Green New Deal scheme”, explained Mario Conserva, president of Metef.
Italy accounts for 500 aluminium producing and converting companies, employing 15,600 operators and generating a turnover exceeding 9 billion euros (2020), and resulting in an annual per capita consumption of 32 kg (Centroal data): Italy stands out as a country whose light metal industry is fairly consolidated and differentiated – from packaging to automotive, from constructions to transportation – and as a leader in aluminium recycling. Yet our country (as much as Europe), still ranking second in the EU for its aluminium converting industry, is poor of unwrought aluminium and has to import it.
Over the last two years (2019-20) Russia was the major exporter of unwrought aluminium to Italy and the EU. This eastern leading country has fuelled Europe with as much as almost 55% of its global production of primary aluminium, equal to over 2.2 million tons needed by our downstream manufacturing sector, and meeting over 20% of the production deficit in the Old Continent all by itself. Even more crucial are the figures for our country: Italy imported from Russia approx. 265K tons of primary aluminium in 2019 (94K tons in 2010) and about 175K tons in 2020. “Considering that in 2020 Italy had a total consumption of (primary and secondary) light alloy exceeding by little 1.8 million tons and requirements for primary aluminium estimated at approx. 1 million tons per year – explains Mr Conserva – the Russian primary aluminium meets around one quarter of our needs.”
These figures show how important the synergy between these two countries is, above all in the light of the developments Russia is undergoing in the production of ecosustainable primary aluminium targeting a very low or even zero carbon footprint. “The choices of a country such as Italy, even within the overall logic of the Green New Deal, will be increasingly steered to let green metal flow into our country, and this product needs to be rewarded under all aspects” – remarks Conserva. And he adds: “Europe has to favour the inbound flows of high-quality and low- or zero-carbon primary metal by means of good trading regulations and CO2 compensation mechanisms while cancelling import duties on unwrought aluminium, a raw material our companies are in huge need of. This is the only way for us to serve the market and the SMEs in the manufacturing sector” closes Mr Conserva.