Aluminium is produced via two different routes: primary aluminium production from ore and recycling aluminium from process scrap and used aluminium products.

Aluminium ore, most commonly bauxite, is plentiful and occurs mainly in tropical and sub-tropical areas such as West Africa, West Indies, South America and Australia. It is mined then refined into alumina using the Bayer Process, and then electrolytically reduced into metallic aluminium. Primary aluminium reduction or smelting plants are located all over the world; however, because it is an energy-intensive process, they are often in areas where there are abundant supplies of inexpensive energy, such as hydroelectric power. Once aluminium is formed it is alloyed with other materials to make an array of metals with differing properties which can be processed in any number of ways – rolled, cast, extruded. After use it can be recycled repeatedly without loss of its properties.

Use the links on the left to explore the various production processes.