FORUM ALUMINIUM 2023 – A Highly Successful Premiere
The who’s who of the European aluminium industry met from 4 to 6 July 2023 at the Glanzstoff site in St. Pölten, Austria. The premiere of the FORUM ALUMINIUM 2023 conference generated great interest and an enthusiastic response. It offered a unique combination of technical, economic and political know-how and paved the way for important future issues.
With its focus on innovation, sustainability and energy management, the group of around 250 participants – aluminium industry experts from all over Europe – was offered a unique programme with explosive, highly topical content. More than 40 well-known specialists from politics, science and business shared their know-how in lectures and panel discussions and immersed themselves deeply in the subject matter. A diverse range of cross-industry lectures and best practice examples, presentations on current industry developments, research results and future strategies was offered. The discussions revolved around sustainable aluminium production and the future of mobility, while considering a combined approach of digitalisation in production, supply chain security and, of course, the use of new technological advances, including casting, additive manufacturing, forming processes and material development.
The panel on day 1: from left to right: Georg Knill (President of The Federation of Austrian Industries), Martin Kocher (Austrian Federal Minister of Labour and Economy), Peter Oswald (Chairman of the Board and CEO of Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG), Georg Feith (Managing Director of CAG Holding)
The future of energy-intensive industry
The first day of the conference addressed the question of whether energy-intensive industry had a future in Europe and what course needed to be set for it. Answers were provided in an intensive panel discussion by a number of respected experts, including Martin Kocher (Austrian Federal Minister of Labour and Economy), Georg Knill (President of The Federation of Austrian Industries), Georg Feith (Managing Director of CAG Holding) and Peter Oswald (Chairman of the Board and CEO of Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG). It became clear that, according to current EU requirements, a green transformation will only be possible if the appropriate infrastructure, i.e. an expansion of the grids and storage capacity of renewable energy, is created in good time.
Possibilities of emission-free aluminium production
The second day was dedicated to the challenge of how emission-free aluminium production could be possible in the future and what is necessary to achieve this goal. In this case also, the panel discussion was one of the highlights of the specialist lectures. Marius Baader (Managing Director of Aluminium Deutschland), Francois Racine (President of AluQuébec), Karin Huber-Heim (Executive Director of the Circular Economy Forum Austria), Oliver Glitzner (Managing Director of NEUMAN Aluminium Austria), Rob van Gils (CEO of Hammerer Aluminium Industries – HAI) and Werner Fragner (Head of Corporate Technology at AMAG Austria Metall AG) exchanged views in lively discussions. It became clear that new partnerships will be essential in order to innovate and promote circularity. In order to achieve the EU’s sustainability goals, however, it was evident that rapid action on the part of politicians was more important than ever.
‘We now have to act quickly and, above all, work together.’
‘One thing is certain after this conference: we are now better informed and more connected than ever. The technical, ecological and political aspects of the aluminium industry along the value chain that were presented and discussed were undoubtedly very enriching for the industry and the wider environment,’ said CAG Managing Director Georg Feith in his role as host, summarising the productive outcome of the FORUM ALUMINIUM. ‘Although we are now well aware that decarbonisation will increase the cost of our processes, all lectures have shown that we are taking the challenges of CO2 reduction and the circular economy seriously.’ According to Feith, the industry understands and accepts the challenges but is very concerned about the increasing regulations. ‘Possible solutions include increasing the proportion of recycled material and using green primary aluminium. Appropriate best practices were presented by AMAG, HAI, NEUMAN Aluminium, Tubex, Prezero Pyral, and PREFA – to name just a few – during the event,’ Feith continued. ‘In order to successfully master the current challenges, it is important that we act quickly and, above all, work with each other and not against each other!’
Social programme with networking and regional delicacies
The two-day conference included a varied social programme for relaxed networking. One of its highlights was the Mayor’s Reception in St. Pölten – Matthias Stadler issued a personal invitation to the town hall for an exchange of knowledge with refreshments. In addition, the participants had the pleasure of wine and cider tastings with a traditional “Heurigenbuffet” (Austrian wine tavern fare) as well as a gourmet conference dinner with atmospheric musical accompaniment on the various days. Practical factory tours of NEUMAN Aluminium and PREFA concluded the conference on its third day.
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