London Calling has long pooh-poohed claims of aluminium being the “greenest metal”, uniquely suited to the engineering of sustainable development outcomes. Such a false assertion was made recently by India’s largest producer of the metal. Vedanta Resources plc published a rejoinder to longstanding claims by Amnesty International that it’s been committing human rights violations around its Lanjigarh alumina refinery in Orissa.
The company also boasted that India uses 40% of aluminium output to “support the growth of [the country's] electrical power supply through the construction of pylons…” [The Lanjigarh development story: Vedanta's perspective, Vedanta Resources plc, August 2012, page 17].
If this were the case, then Vedanta could reasonably argue that it’s making a significant impact on reducing poverty, and stimulating better livelihoods, among millions of downtrodden Indian citizens. Unfortunately, Vedanta got the facts wrong – and badly so.
The other widely-used nonferrous metal, ostensibly critical to electricity generation, is copper, which few people would describe as “green” (except when it’s become oxidised).