Aluminium is widely found in nature, in this regard it occupies fourth place among all elements and first place among metals (it comprises 8.8% of the Earth’s crust), though not in its pure form. It is mostly extracted from bauxite, and though it is known to contain a few hundred minerals (aluminium silicates, alunite etc.), the overwhelming majority are not suitable for metal production.
Aluminium possesses remarkable properties, which explain its widespread usage. In terms its usage across various fields of industry, it comes second only to iron. Ductile and malleable, aluminium can take all forms. The oxide layer makes it resistant to corrosion, which means products made from aluminium can have a very long service life. Moreover, it has other characteristics that deserve to be added to the list; it is highly conductive, non-toxic and easy to process.
All this can be explained by the huge value this light metal has in the global economy. Without it, the aerospace industry never would have developed. Aluminium is needed for manufacturing cars, high-speed trains, and ships. Aluminium is also used in a variety of products in modern construction, and is the main material for high-voltage power lines. Approximately half of all dishes used for food preparation and cooking sold each year around the world are made from this metal. Moreover, it is impossible to find a shop that does not sell aluminium drinks cans or a pharmacy without medicine packaged in aluminium foil.
The significance of aluminium for the modern economy cannot be overemphasised. Aluminium consumption in industry is closely linked to the development of most high-tech industrial sectors (automotive, aviation, aerospace projects, electronics etc).
In this way, consumption of aluminium and aluminium alloys implicitly characterises a general level of technological development and innovation in an economy.