Aluminum is one of today’s most commonly-used metals, but its use is relatively new. Unlike some metals, for instance gold, aluminum does not naturally occur in metallic form. Moreover, aluminum didn’t exist at all in metallic form 200 years ago.
Most of today’s aluminum is either refined from bauxite, its primary ore, or it is recycled aluminum. Recycling aluminum is increasingly common, as aluminum is infinitely recyclable and the recycling of aluminum products and alloys is very energy efficient when compared to refining bauxite.
Refining bauxite into metallic aluminum happens in two stages. Bauxite is first mined, often from shallow