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Aluminium, Alumina and Bauxite

Aluminium is an important metal with a wide range of important applications and is a core part of South32's global business. We operate in all stages of aluminium production and are a significant producer of this widely used metal, with operations in South America, Australia and southern Africa.

South32 has operations mining Bauxite and refining Alumina in Australia and Brazil and smelters producing Aluminium in South Africa, Mozambique and Brazil.

We have increased our exposure to low-carbon aluminium¹ and operate the largest aluminium smelter in the southern hemisphere.

Key stats

1,133 KT

FY23 Aluminium Production

Key uses of Aluminium

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Cars and transportation

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Construction materials

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Consumer electonics

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Aircraft construction

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Food and beverage packaging

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Aluminium is often referred to as the metal of the future. It is lightweight, durable, strong, resistant to corrosion, recyclable, non-toxic and conductive, so has a wide range of applications.

These applications include construction, electrical wiring, transportation, packaging and consumer goods such as electronics and household items.




Bauxite is an aluminium ore found in deposits around the world - with Australia the largest producer. Prior to processing, Bauxite ore is red sedimentary rock.

We mine bauxite at our Australian Worsley Alumina mine as well as at our Brazil Alumina Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) mine.

Processing Bauxite

Processing Bauxite

After being mined, the Bauxite ore is processed into Alumina at nearby facilities.

At Worsley, an overland conveyor links the mine to the refinery, 50 kilometres (km) away. It is the longest of its kind in Australia, and a great engineering feat. This conveyor belt passes through 42.5 km of forest, crosses 29 roads and two rivers. Travelling at 25km/h and carrying 3,400 tonnes of bauxite every hour, the conveyor could load a semi-trailer in about 30 seconds.

At Brazil Alumina, bauxite is mined at the Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) mine, in Porto Trombetas, in northern Brazil. Our share of the ore produced at the MRN mine is supplied to the Alumar alumina refinery in São Luís, northeastern Brazil, which has been operating since the mid-eighties.




Alumina is the key raw material used to produce primary aluminium.

Mined bauxite ore is refined into alumina through what is known as the Bayer process. The process, discovered in 1887, extracts alumina from bauxite through crushing, dissolving it in caustic soda, filtration and an electrolytic process.

Alumina is a white powder, appearing similar to table salt, which can then be smelted into aluminium metal.

Mining bauxite and producing alumina

South32 mines bauxite and produces alumina at two of our operations: Worsley Alumina and Brazil Alumina.




The white alumina powder produced at our refineries is then smelted into aluminium at our operations in South Africa, Mozambique and Brazil.

Our smelters produce aluminium ingots at Hillside Aluminium, Mozal Aluminium and Brazil Aluminium. This Aluminium is supplied to domestic and export markets, as well as supplying liquid metal to some local businesses in South Africa and Mozambique to support the development of local aluminium industries.


¹ 'Low-carbon aluminium' refers to aluminium produced using renewable power