German semi-finished aluminum products sector remains upbeat despite overall 0.5% drop in 2011 production to 2.443 million tonnes, says GDA; rolled product output fell 2.2%, partially offset by 5% gain in extrusions production

DUSSELDORF, Germany , March 15, 2012 () – The German semi-finished aluminium products industry remains confident about 2012, despite the slight decline in production of 0.5 per cent in 2011. “Production in the last two years came close to the all-time high. That’s why, taken as a whole, the decline in economic activity in the second half of 2011 led to weaker results.“ explained Friedrich Brökelmann, chairman of the semi-finished products trade association (Fachverband Aluminiumhalbzeug) in the GDA Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie e.V., Düsseldorf. The year 2012 began unevenly, with a decline in production in rolling mills, and a positive start for extrusions. “Nevertheless our outlook for 2012 is positively. Development in the major markets such as automotive, building and packaging is good, and the capacity utilization is also stable. We are confident to maintain last year’s level in 2012,“ said Brökelmann, during the trade association assembly in Düsseldorf.

Aluminium semi-finished products manufacturers have 47 production locations in Germany, and employ around 16,000 people. The companies produce rolled products (sheets, strips, plates), extrusions (profiles, rods, tubes), wire, and forgings. The 34 German producers of semi-finished aluminium products produced a total of 2.443 million tonnes last year.

Aluminium rolling mills account for the largest proportion of German production of aluminium semi-finished products; that is nearly half of rolling production in Europe. Production of rolled aluminium amounted to 1,835,381 tonnes in 2011. That is a slight decline of 2.2 per cent compared to the previous year (2010: 1,876,792 tonnes). In January 2012 145,439 tonnes of rolled products were produced, which corresponds to a decline of 6.1 per cent compared to the previous year. The decline in 2011 and at the beginning of 2012 is caused by weaker industrial production in general as well as tendencies towards a recession in the euro zone, the main export market of the German aluminium industry. GDA Executive Director Christian Wellner says “As the level was very high in 2011, the slight decline is not hard to absorb. Our markets will stabilize again by the middle of the year,” says Christian Wellner. Apart from the automotive sector, the biggest markets of rolled aluminium semi-finished products are packaging and technical applications (machinery and electronics), which together represent roughly three-quarters of demand on rolled products. The remaining demand comes from the sectors building, trade and other kinds of end products.

Consistently positive figures are reported by producers of extrusions of aluminium. In 2011 production grows by 5 per cent up to 602,852 tonnes (2010: 574,257 tonnes). The positive trend continued at the beginning of the year; tonnage rose by 3.2 per cent compared to the previous year. Major markets for extrusions are the building and transportation sectors with nearly 60 %. The remaining demand comes from the sectors sheet and metal goods, and other kinds of end products. “All forecasts speak for a continued stability in these markets,” says Friedrich Brökelmann. But there are some uncertainties, too. “The German extruders supply the solar market with a range of different profiles. Therefore cuts to subsidies in the solar industry have negative effects on production in the short term.” To be more independent on the cyclical fluctuations of individual markets the producers of profiles have considerably expanded their product range in recent years. This means that weaknesses in certain markets can be compensated otherwise. “Larger product ranges also mean an improvement in overall capacity at all extrusion plants,” says Christian Wellner.

About GDA:
The Gesamtverband der Aluminiumindustrie e.V. (GDA), with offices in Düsseldorf, was founded in Dresden in 1992. It is an association of aluminium manufacturers in Germany and other European countries that produce raw aluminium or aluminium products, also in combination with other materials. The association represents the interests of a highly efficient aluminium industry.

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