Aluminium / Aluminum Trading

Imperium Commodity Search and her consultants maintain relationships with metal traders globally and has assisted both small aluminium trading houses and global producers in the growth of their teams.

What is Aluminium? 

Aluminium (Al) is the worlds most abundant metal, making up over 8% of the earths crust.  It is a soft and ductile light silvery metal of the boron group.  In early years of the industrial revolution, it was believed that aluminium was a rare element due to the extraction process.  Initially extracted from Ore by Danish chemist Hans Christian Oersted through a long and drawn out process, aluminium has since become a staple of modern life and is used in a vast array of applications including aircraft, cars, foil, cans and buildings. 

Like other base metals, there are two key routes to production; primary and secondary. 

Primary Aluminium; Aluminium that is produced using the Bayer and Hall-Heroult method.  Aluminium is primarily found in Bauxite, a red sedimentary rock.  Through the Bayer process, this is turned into Aluminium Oxide.  Aluminium Oxide is smelted via the Hall-Heroult process to produce pure aluminium.  2KG of Bauxite is required to make 1KG of Aluminium Oxide and 2KG of Aluminium Oxide is required to produce 1KG of Aluminium.  

Primary production: Bauxite > Bayer Process > Aluminium Oxide > Smelting/Hall-Heroult > Aluminium 

Secondary Aluminium; Aluminium is fairly simple to recycle and remelt.  Remelted scrap aluminium is then cast into slabs and billets.  Secondary production is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than primary production.  

Secondary production: Scrap Aluminium > Sorting by Chemical Compound > Remelting > Casting 

Aluminium Uses 

Aluminium is one of the worlds most valuable materials for the production of a whole heap of modern day conveniences.  The major uses of Aluminium are: 

Aerospace/Aircraft: Aluminium is used in the production of aircraft, rockets and space vehicles.  Aluminium works well for this application due to its lightweight and relatively strong properties, particularly when alloyed.  Aluminium also suffers from far less corrosion than many other commonplace metals which is critical for the structural integrity of air/spacecraft. 

Household Appliances: Aluminium is commonly used in the production of fridges, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers etc, again due its corrosion resistance and lightweight properties 

Cans: Aluminium is used widely in what are colloquially (although incorrectly) called tin cans.  Aluminium cools rapidly and allows liquids/drinks to be refrigerated efficiently.  It is also environmentally friendly due to the widely available recycling facilities and ease of re-use of aluminium products. 

Cars: A critical component in modern day automobile manufacturing, aluminium is lightweight and strong, allowing improved fuel economy.  It is also a ductile metal, allowing for the casting/pressing of panels easily. 

Foil: A trusty mainstay in most kitchens, aluminium foil conducts heat and is incredibly soft/malleable so can be used efficiently for cooking and storage of food products. 

Others: Aluminium is easily pressed, cut and formed into shape so is used in a huge variety of day to day applications, such as clock hands, electrical wiring, blinds and windows. 

How is Aluminium traded? 

Aluminium is a globally traded product due to its uses in the construction/manufacturing industry.  Chinese demand is a huge driver in the global aluminium price due to the scale of production/usage in construction projects and manufacturing of electronics and vehicles.  Many large scale producers have in-house marketing and sales team that drive relationships with manufacturers, construction firms and end users of aluminium product, removing the need for a back to back trader in many transactions.  Back to back traders exist to assist in the liquidity of the physical markets, by taking ownership and storing/transporting of products globally.  Perhaps more so than other metal products, many aluminium traders, stockists and producers employ technically minded traders and marketers due to the variety of technical applications of the metal, such as in aircraft and vehicle components. 

Aluminium is traded on futures exchanges globally, including the MOEX and COMEX.  The LME in London is the largest futures exchange for aluminium, setting global pricing benchmarks, futures quotes in varying degrees and hedging services as well as physical execution/logistics services to physically settle futures trades.  

Largest Aluminium Producers:

Aluminium is found globally in the earths crust, but there are certain areas where Bauxite and raw materials for aluminium are more widely found.  Aluminium production, like many other metals, is dominated by China who account for around half of the worlds aluminium output.  The largest aluminium producers (in MT) are:

China (32MM)
Russia (3.5MM)
Canada (3.3MM)
India (2.8MM)
UAE (2.4MM)
Australia (1.7MM)

Largest Aluminium Importers:

Aluminium produced in China is largely for domestic use, and little is exported.  Equally, the flow of production is generally enough to meet demand and the global giant does not rely on imports of aluminium in any notable way.  The largest importers of aluminium (in USD) are:

USA (9bn)
Germany (5bn)
Japan (4.5bn)
South Korea (3bn)
Italy (2.2bn)

Who are the key players? 

There are a small number of very large producers/traders of aluminium products globally, as well as some smaller boutique trading houses and specialist application smelters/producers.  The largest aluminium companies globally (by MT output) are: 

Hongqiao Group (China)
Chalco (China)
Rusal (Russia)
Xinfa (China)
Rio Tinto (UK/Aus) 

What is the Salary for an Aluminium Trader? 

Aluminium traders are paid differently dependant upon the type of organisation they work for.  In the UK we would expect a mid-seniority aluminium trader (physical, back to back) to be paid in the region of 60-90,000GBP basic salary with a PnL related annual or quarterly bonus.  

Aluminium Trading Recruitment from Imperium Commodity Search

Imperium Commodity Search utilise a headhunt and extraction led search model to assist global aluminium trading houses, producers and brokerages in finding the best talent for their growth plans.  Our consultants have worked with small trading houses in the UK, Switzerland and Singapore on strategic growth through the acquisition of traders as well as helping global producers to expand their technical sales capacity.  We have a good coverage of aluminium professionals across all key international markets and tailor our solutions to our clients based on size, markets, culture and growth plans.  

If you would like to discuss our experience in the aluminium trading markets or find out how we recruit for aluminium trading positions, please call us on +44 (0) 203 927 5090 or register online here and one of our metals recruitment consultants will be in touch.

To view our current aluminium & metals brokerage, trading, operations and support vacancies click here or contact one of our consultants to discuss current careers / jobs in aluminium trading to discuss your needs in more detail.

To arrange a consultation with a consultant to discuss your hiring needs / growth plans and where we can assist click here or contact one of our consultants directly here for a confidential discussion.

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