Did you know? The source of aluminium metal is an ore known as bauxite. Bauxite was originally discovered in France, but the large-scale mining of bauxite today is in semi-tropical areas – Africa, South America and Australia, for example. There is no commercial mining of bauxite in the UK.
Bauxite is a complex mixture of alumino-silicates, iron oxide, titanium dioxide and silica. Compared to other metals, both ferrous and non-ferrous, the yield of aluminium metal from ore is very high. It requires four tonnes of bauxite to produce two tonnes of aluminium oxide, from which one tonne of aluminium metal results. For some metals, such as gold or silver, one tonne of ore might yield only a few ounces of metal. Therefore, with world production totalling 65 million tonnes of aluminium metal, the industry must mine 260 million tonnes of bauxite.