Primary aluminium production was unaffected by coronavirus in February, but producers are now curtailing operations because of government measures intended to contain the pandemic or because of the lack of demand from end markets.
Norway-based producer Norsk Hydro said its primary metal business will temporarily idle two recycling plants, in France and Luxembourg. This followed an announcement late last week that it will close some extrusion plants in France, Spain and Italy.
The impact of coronavirus is “most visible in the automotive segment and in parts of building and construction, and most imminently in southern Europe”, the company said. “Depending on further governmental measures introduced in various countries and regions, and the situation on the demand side in various segments, Hydro will take the necessary measures to adapt to the situation, aiming to maintain operations and deliveries to customers.”
In Canada, where Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto has more than half of its aluminium output, Quebec has closed all non-essential businesses from today. This does not include aluminium production, but all industries in the country have been instructed to reduce their business activity to a minimum.
“The health and safety of our people is Rio Tinto’s key priority and we are supportive of the action being taken by various governments to address the threat of Covid-19,” chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said, adding that the firm will work look to minimise the impact on its employees, customers, communities and suppliers.