China’s push for green aluminium production is poised to mark a significant milestone, with the China Green Metal Certification Center (CGMC) anticipating the accreditation of approximately 2.75 million metric tons (over 3 million US tons) of low-carbon aluminium by the end of the year. This volume represents around 7% of the nation’s total aluminium production, with expectations to increase to 4 million metric tons (about 4.4 million US tons) in 2024, according to a Beijing-backed industry association.
The surge in certification aligns with increasing international demand for environmentally responsible supply chains, as noted by Ma Cunzhen, director of CGMC under the China Nonferrous Metal Industry Association. Leading global brands, including Apple, Audi, and BMW, are driving this trend by seeking evidence of reduced emissions in their materials.
“We are seeing great responses from companies who are seeking to get the assessment as soon as possible.”
To date, CGMC has granted green certification to 2.24 million metric tons (nearly 2.47 million US tons) of aluminium from 28 companies. The certification process, which currently covers an additional 500,000 metric tons (over 551,000 US tons), typically takes a week per application.
Key industry players such as Chalco’s Qinghai unit and Henan Zhongfu Industrial’s operation in Sichuan province have already achieved CGMC verification, as confirmed by their respective websites.
CGMC’s certification specifically targets aluminium produced solely with renewable energy sources, including hydro, wind, or solar power. Although green-certified aluminium commands a higher premium in Europe, Chinese smelters have yet to leverage the certification for price increases, according to Asian market experts.
In the context of China’s prevalent coal-powered electricity, the aluminium electrolysis process emits close to 14 tons of carbon dioxide per metric ton of primary aluminium. This emission can drop below 2 tons with the adoption of renewable energy sources.
The cost for a one-year green certification stands at 2 yuan (approximately US$0.2748) per ton—a nominal figure compared to the Shanghai Futures Exchange’s current aluminium price of 19,190 yuan per ton.
The impending Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) from the European Union, which will become fully operational in 2026, is forecasted to further fuel the demand for green-certified aluminium.
Domestic demand for green aluminium is projected to more than double by 2030, reaching 12 million metric tons (over 13 million US tons), with the demand outside China also expected to double to 3 million metric tons, according to projections by the state-endorsed research body Antaike.