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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2006
10 BRIEFINGS first half of 2006, according to the China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association. The figures released by the association reveal that China produced 1.46 million tons of copper in the first six months of the year, up 21.7 percent year-on-year. The production of electrolytic aluminium increased by 15.47 percent to reach 4.27 million tons. The country also produced 1.3 million tons of lead and 1.48 million tons of zinc, up 21.78 percent and 15.26 percent, respectively. In all, the production of 10 major non-ferrous metals stood at 8.94 million tons, up 16.77 percent over the same period of 2005. Prices for copper and other major non-ferrous metals in the international market have been on a steady rise over recent years. Increased production and higher prices for China's major non-ferrous metals enterprises resulted in increased sales 58.67 % in the first half of the year to 586.36 billion Yuan (73.30 billion U.S. dollars). Profits also jumped by 89.78 percent to reach 70.67 billion Yuan (8.83 billion dollars). Challenges for Australian Manufacturing Industry During the 90's Australia had macro economists espousing the fact that the decline in manufacturing industry in Australia was a good thing: that it should shrink and make way for minerals and energy industries and services. China has now created very large challenges and raised the stakes with its industrialisation and has fundamentally changed the manufacturing world. Importantly, China will not stay at the low end of the manufacturing profile, it is already building a big resource base of engineers and scientists to do the value adding. Low labour costs for China have been the constant mantra for complaint by not only the Australian manufactures but also globally. While agreeing this is an issue for Australia, gaining a competitive advantage involves much more than just labour costs. It involves the ability to introduce innovative products to serve customer needs in a flexible www.metals.rala.com.au Opportunity - Australian Ferrous Casting Industry D. Harland1, M.S. Dargusch2, D. H. St John2 1Principal Consultant, Doug Harland Consulting, 37 Sardon Street, Toowoomba, Qld, 4305 2CAST CRC, School of Engineering, The University of Queensland; St. Lucia; Brisbane; QLD 4072, Australia Over the last 13 years the CAST Cooperative Research Centre in Australia has established an integrated research, technology transfer and education program focused on achieving outcomes for industry in the area of light metals, namely Magnesium and Aluminium. As a consequence of the strong support from industry over this period, CAST has been successful in obtaining three rounds of funding from the Australian Federal Government's Cooperative Research Centres' Programme. State Governments support projects within the CRC which can be shown to produce economic benefits for their respective states. The outcomes from rounds 1 and 2 have resulted in CAST having excellent credibility. The third round of the CAST CRC was launched at the CAST Conference at Twin Waters in July this year. In this round of the CRC, CAST is now very keen to support the Ferrous Casting Industry and move its historical focus from light metals. The underpinning philosophy of all CRC programs is the requirement for the research bodies involved to be focused only on Industry driven research. Selected Projects are subject to rigorous scientific scrutiny and must be aimed at practical outcomes that move the Industry forward. It is acknowledged that not all projects will achieve successful outcomes, as this is an associated and recognized risk of new research. AFI (Qld) and the CAST CRC have recently been successful in obtaining Queensland State Government funding to undertake a detailed survey and technical needs investigation with AFI members in Queensland. This is the first real opportunity to conduct a survey and ultimately assist the Ferrous Casting Industry in Queensland through research, with a number of objectives in mind, namely: 1. To identify 3 or 4 projects needed by the industry to improve either quality, service, product performance, productivity, safety, or environmental practices that are in need of research to bring a desired outcome. 2. Capture broad economic data to allow our Industry to publicly identify the contribution it makes to the State and Local Communities. 3 Identify skills shortages and identify opportunities to address the concerns of Queensland manufacturers in these areas. The above CAST CRC Project is now underway and interviews are being conducted with participating companies in Queensland. The project is only Queensland based at present because its State Government is providing the funding for the activities currently underway to identify suitable future CAST projects. It is intended that the projects carried out in Queensland will demonstrate to both State and Federal Government funding bodies that CAST and AFI can work together to achieve R & D outcomes in key areas relevant to the worldwide industry, resulting in real economic benefits for the state and the development of world class expertise in key areas of technology. Once established and credible, the program could expand nationally. Ferrous casting companies in other states can also benefit from any useful research outcomes from projects initiated in Queensland as a result of this project through license agreements, or in the training area through AFI Queensland. This will be a gradual process and we want to build a long term relationship between CAST and AFI members -- addressing environmental and technical research and technology transfer, training and representation to Governments and industry groups such as the AIG.