One of the world's largest metallurgical plants is starting a large-scale modernization. Half of the obsolete shops will be demolished, and new ones will be built in their place.
The RUSAL Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter is one of the main air polluters in the territory. Fluoride and benzapyrene emissions are the primary hazards in aluminum production. Over the last few years, the plant's capacities have been converted to cleaner technology Environmental Soderberg. As a result, there was a 38% reduction in emissions at the smelter. The next stage is the transition to burnt anodes which requires a major overhaul of the plant.
“The RA-550 electrolysis units, working on a new technology, will be installed there. By using this most modern, powerful, environmentally friendly and energy-efficient technology for aluminium production today, benzapyrene emissions are reduced to zero and fluoride emissions are reduced 3.5 times,” said Ivan Rebrik, Director of UC RUSAL's Ecology and Climate Control Department at a recent field session of the environmental committee of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Legislative Assembly.
This process which will take the next decade will involve huge investments and, in fact, the reorganization of the entire industry. Modernization is planned at aluminum smelters not only in Krasnoyarsk. It will also take place in Irkutsk, Bratsk, and Novokuznetsk. The development of this technology was started about 20 years ago. Today, it has already passed all stages of confirmation and expert conclusions. In Siberia, the project will create about 10,000 new jobs within the period of modernization directly at the construction sites, about 7,000 jobs will be created at the adjacent plants for manufacturing of equipment and metal constructions, about 1,200 jobs will be created at the construction of anode plants. Baked anodes will be produced in the Irkutsk region, where a new factory will be built at the Taishet aluminum smelter that will be launched at the end of 2021 and also at the already existing production facility in the Republic of Khakassia.
Skeptics believe that we should not be excited before time. A decade is quite a long time. In the current unstable economic situation anything can happen and the grand plans of the holding will change. Besides, the production of anodes is also not very eco-friendly.
When the decision to build the factory in Taishet was taken, people were against the project. That is, the question arises: how modern and environmentally friendly will it be and will it not worsen the situation with emissions in Khakassia and the Baikal region as a result?
“It might happen but in my opinion, not soon. Maybe, in 2030. We need to see how effective the measures that are being implemented now are and adjust them. Thus, by the end of March, emission quotas must be approved, and accordingly the company must understand how it will reduce emissions and comply with these quotas. We also suggest to see what measures the company can take to improve the environmental situation,” Vitaly Drozdov, a deputy of the regional Legislative Assembly, said in interview with wek.ru.
However, everything is going well for RUSAL owner Oleg Deripaska. Last year, RUSAL produced 3.7 million tonnes of aluminum, according to the holding's documentation. By 2020, the growth was 0.2%. At the same time, the sales pattern has changed. The European share dropped, and growth was recorded in the direction of the Russian and CIS markets, as well as in the USA. At the same time, the average selling price of aluminum increased by 41.4%, reaching $2,500 per tonne.
According to analysts, aluminum prices reached an all-time high. Experts predict a significant deficit this year as a result of reduced supply of the metal in Europe and China. According to Russian Aluminum estimates, it could amount to 1.6-1.7 million tonnes. In addition to high electricity prices, production costs have risen because of more expensive primary raw materials such as bauxite, alumina, and high prices for anodes fired due to rising prices for petroleum coke and coal tar. RUSAL is known to have both its own raw materials and cheap electricity from the company's affiliated Siberian hydroelectric plants.
“In the context of rising production costs, aluminum quotes are provided with fundamental support for the formation of a stable long-term upward trend. Although there is much uncertainty in the market as to how exactly the regulators in China will act this year and how quickly supply in Europe can recover and whether geopolitical factors will have an impact on aluminum supply,” says Daniil Karimov, managing director of the metallurgy sector at Otkritie Research.