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EU aluminum industry needs pragmatic approach to energy transition, rethink CBAM

March 1, 2024
According to foreign news on February 27, Evangelos Mtilineos, CEO of Greek diversified metals and energy company Mytineos, said that the pressure of energy transition has exacerbated the "survival" challenges facing the European aluminum industry, and the EU's upcoming carbon border adjustment mechanism ( CBAM) is not well-suited to protect European aluminum producers from international competition in the decarbonization process.
Mytineos said that in the context of sluggish economic growth (especially in Germany, Europe's largest market), high energy prices and increasing pressure to reduce emissions, the end-use production market is sluggish, and European aluminum producers are working hard to adapt.
He said his company was one of the first to recognize that synergies between the energy and metals industries could make companies more resilient in the costly race to decarbonize.
According to Mvtiineos, the company has one of the lowest production costs in the industry due to synergies with its energy business and its positioning as the largest vertical aluminum producer in the EU.
As a result, Mineos’ aluminum business, Hellenic Aluminum, although not immune to weak demand and price fluctuations, will still be able to operate its alumina refining Guanghe aluminum smelter at full capacity in 2023. The company's aluminum output in 2023 will be 239,000 tons, an increase of 1% from 2022, including 183,000 tons of primary aluminum and 56,000 tons of secondary aluminum. Alumina production in 2023 will increase by 1% year-on-year to 869,000 tons.
Need to rethink CBAM
Commenting on the plight of EU producers, Mytlines noted that "demand for aluminum in Europe is very low due to the poor performance of the European economy, noting that energy prices will remain the main challenge for the industry as electricity accounts for 10% of total primary aluminum production." About 40% of the cost.
Mytilineos also warned that the EU’s upcoming CBAM would fail to achieve its design goal of creating a level playing field for EU industries because they are decarbonizing faster than the rest of the world.
Mvtlneos suggested that Europe needs to rethink the CBAM approach and turn its attention to the US Inflation Reduction Act across the Atlantic, forming a "climate club" with other countries to promote decarbonization.
While the industry grapples with expected increases in carbon costs on top of energy prices and tepid demand, the market for low-carbon emitting aluminum has yet to take off. According to Mvne0s, the market must first consider its "existence" issues.
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