The aluminum industry has been significantly affected by the falling demand for aluminum from the automotive manufacturing and construction sectors. Aluminum prices have dropped from about $1,820 per ton in January 2020 to $1,4215.5 per ton on April 8 and some manufacturers have announced the suspension of work at their facilities due to the lowered demand. Although there has been a slowdown in demand for aluminum from transport, construction and consumer electronics sectors, the industry is seeing increased demand for aluminum components of printed circuit boards for medical devices such as ventilators. The US Aluminum Association has called on state and federal governments to ensure that aluminum production is designated as an essential industry to allow manufacturers to meet this demand.
There has been some disruption to the supply chain as a result of travel restrictions and port closures but supplies of bauxite have generally been unaffected. The major producing countries Australia, Guinea and Brazil have not announced mine closures and Chinese mines have almost returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Bauxite mining was also deemed essential in India and so was exempt from the country's 21 day lockdown. However, analysts have warned that continued weak demand from downstream consumers combined with the high supply could leave the aluminum industry in surplus by millions of tonnes.
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