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The Demise Of The UK Aluminium Industry

April 20, 2015

By Paul Homewood  




Three years ago, Britain’s last major aluminium smelter, Lynemouth, was closed. This followed the closure of the Anglesey plant in 2009.

An industry, that used to boast of production figures of 300,000 tonnes a year, is now reduced to the tiny Lochaber plant, rated at 43000 tonnes.

The reasons for these closures was well documented at the time, and the major one was high energy costs, largely due to UK climate policies.

The independent think tank, Civitas, published this report at the time:










The biggest irony was that Lynemouth was one of the energy efficient smelters in the world.




It was inevitable, therefore, that not only would these closures simply export UK CO2 emissions, they would actually have the effect of increasing them, as Business Monitor pointed out:




Three years on, we can see what has happened to global aluminium output.






While European production has slowly declined, China’s has shot through the roof.


This neglect of our aluminium industry is doubly ironic, because the metal is actually very green, as far as metals go. Its combination of lightness, strength and long life make it ideal for many applications, and contribute, for instance, to much lower emissions from cars.

Furthermore, it is 100% recyclable, with re-melting only requiring 5% of the energy required to produce the metal in the first place. 


As Civitas concluded three years ago:



  1. Joe Public permalink
    April 20, 2015 5:38 pm

    The Revenge of Unintended Consequences.

  2. April 20, 2015 5:48 pm

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    How to export your industry, raise the cost. But you do get to complain about “pollution” from where the industry and jobs went. So, I suppose, there is some advantage.

  3. mkelly permalink
    April 20, 2015 6:07 pm

    This should be a boon to the smelting plant in Iceland.

  4. April 20, 2015 7:33 pm

    Same thing is happening in the US. Alcoa closed its coal fired Texas (2008) and Tennessee (2012) smelters in favor of new capacity in Brazil (Itaipu hydro). Not so much climate change, just normal business chasing low cost. Aluminum is sometimes referred to as ‘solid electricity’.

  5. Chilli permalink
    April 20, 2015 7:39 pm

    Excellent piece Paul. These are exactly the points that UKIP’s Roger Helmer was making today in the BBC Daily Politics 5-way debate on Energy & Environment – with 4 green idiots from the other parties. But Roger might as well have been banging his head against the wall for all the notice the others took of him – all going on about how green & renewable they’ve been and how they plan even more stupidity in the next parliament – completely oblivious to the damage they’re doing to peoples livelihoods.

  6. April 20, 2015 8:54 pm

    Even the Institution of Chemical Engineers refuses to accept the damage of the AGW related policies and will not publish articles critical of the “settled science”…… what hope have we got against the might of the establishment? I was hoping that UKIP might get the issue into the debate, but looks like another dead-end.

  7. John F. Hultquist permalink
    April 20, 2015 9:41 pm

    At one time Aluminum was difficult and costly and used as the apex on the Washington Monument.

    For history buffs, the full story is here:

    The State of Washington was once a major importer of alumina [Aluminum (III) oxide] and processor of this compound. With increases in pollution concerns and costs, such industry has declined. Meanwhile, there are now a lot of computer programmers and cloud-facilities in the State. Irrigated fruit (incl. grapes and wine) is ascendant.
    Meanwhile, one of the popular pickup trucks seen in the State, the F150, is now a major source of Aluminium importation.

  8. April 21, 2015 4:40 am

    Its less CO2 to ship it from the other side of the planet lol

    Don’t worry game over soon

  9. April 21, 2015 9:49 am

    I visit the UAE every year and have seen the increase in aluminium smelting while our idiotic clmate policies are reducing the UK to an economic basket case.The UAE and most other middle east and far east countries are laughing at us.What do we expect when we have no politicians with any sense whatsoever,no experience of the real world.God help us after the election!!!

  10. April 21, 2015 3:10 pm

    Not so sure any of this is unintended. West has been pursuing policies which have led to the deindustrialization of our economies.

  11. April 23, 2015 3:22 am

    In my country (South Africa) aluminium smelters get a very substantial discount on electricity — up to 50% compared to other users. Perhaps the UK’s woes are due to similar subsidies being phased out?

  12. April 23, 2015 12:11 pm

    And in Australia
    “Didn’t Victoria’s CO2 already reduce 25% overnight when this happened?
    Alcoa’s Point Henry aluminium mill closing”
    December 18, 2014


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