The Aluminium Sector in Lebanon: Resilience in the Face of Challenges
So what do sapphires, rubies, soda cans, forks, knives, helicopters, airplanes, cars, and some electronics all have in common? They all contain aluminium, the third most abundant resource in the earth’s crust.
How Aluminium is made
The process of making this multi-purpose metal starts with the mining of bauxite. Discovered for the first time in France in 1821, bauxite is a rock but more than that, it is the world’s premier source of aluminium. The bauxite production giants are Australia (31%), China (16%), Brazil (14%), Indonesia (12%), Guinea (7%), India (6%), Jamaica (4%), Kazakhstan (2%), Russia (2%) and Suriname (1%).
After extraction, the bauxite is refined in order to obtain Alumina, also referred to as aluminium oxide. The next step consists of refining this alumina in order to turn it into liquid aluminium. The liquid aluminium is then casted in different molds depending on what the aluminium will be used for. The molds can either be Extrusion ingots, Sheet ingots or foundry alloys. In the extrusion technique, the aluminium billet is heated and pushed through a die, a tool that determines the shape of the aluminium profiles. If the aluminium is molded into sheet ingots, the purpose is to make rolled products such as plates, strip and foil. Whereas when foundry alloys are used in the process, the metal is usually destined to be used for car parts.
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