LONDON, July 21 -- Trimet Aluminium AG, Germany's biggest producer of the lightweight metal, returned its smelters to full capacity on improved demand from carmakers.
Output probably will come to "roughly" 250,000 metric tons of primary aluminum this year, board member Martin Iffert said in an e-mail sent yesterday. The Essen, Germany-based company's two smelters can process 300,000 tons of metal annually, he said. They were running at about 80 percent of capacity in March.
"Ramp-up to full capacity started at the beginning of 2010 as a response to increasing demand from the downstream aluminum industry, specifically the automotive industry," Iffert said in the e-mail in response to questions.
Trimet reduced production at the start of 2009 as the global economy sank into its deepest recession since World War II, hurting demand for industrial metals. Global aluminum consumption dropped 4.4 percent last year and will rebound 12 percent this year as the world economy recovers, according to a report from Barclays Capital on July 16.
An average North American vehicle contains 340 pounds of the metal, according to the website of the Aluminum Transportation Group, made up of members including Alcoa Inc. Consumption of aluminum in light trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans has tripled since 1991, the site shows. The metal is used in industries from packaging to aerospace.
Production was down to half of capacity in January at Trimet's 170,000 ton-a-year smelter in Essen and the Hamburg plant, which can process 130,000 tons of metal, according to Iffert. Still, the drop had no effect on Trimet's recycling activities, he said.
Total production at the family-owned company's recycling plants in Gelsenkirchen, Harzgerode and Essen is estimated at 150,000 tons of aluminum per year, according to the e-mail.
Aluminum for three-month delivery fell 0.6 percent to $1,961 a ton at 11:55 a.m. on the London Metal Exchange. Prices have dropped 12 percent this year after a 45 percent jump in 2009.
The metal for immediate delivery will average $1,989 a ton this year, rising to $2,150 next year, according to Barclays Capital. That compares with an average so far this year of $2,114 for spot aluminum.