Cast non-ferrous metal products and manufacturing form a significant portion of the U.S. metalworking industry. Nonferrous metal foundry goods are experiencing noticeable growth due to increasing demand from the automotive industry, particularly from the expanding market for lightweight aluminum materials caused by a recent emphasis on fuel efficiency and gas emissions.
The cast non-ferrous metal industry includes companies that melt nonferrous metals into molds and allows them to solidify into a casting of predetermined dimensions and physical characteristics. These castings are usually created from purchased materials or from smelting and refining facilities. The most common non-ferrous metals used are aluminum, magnesium, titanium, copper, and zinc, with aluminum castings alone accounting for nearly 70 percent of total sales.
In 2008, the non-ferrous metal castings industry generated approximately $14.7 billion in revenue, indicating a growth of 1.2 percent over the previous year. The industry gross product was valued at roughly $7.35 billion, and the industry as a whole employed over 67,000 workers. Aluminum die-cast and foundry products accounted for the majority of the market, while copper goods took the second-highest share.
The non-ferrous metal refining industry includes companies that smelt or refine a variety of metal ores, excluding aluminum, through furnace-based and electrolytic processing methods in order to create supplies for casting firms. With the exception of precious metals, some of the non-ferrous refining industry’s activities intersect with those of mining. Companies that deal with gold typically work on a fee-per-service model.
The total revenue for the non-ferrous metal refining industry totaled approximately $13.87 billion in 2008, with a 3.7 percent revenue growth over the previous year and an industry gross product valued at roughly $4.3 billion. That same year, the industry employed nearly 8,000 workers. Its exports came to about $7.4 billion, while imports were worth $27.3 billion. Copper refining accounted for more than three-quarters of the market share, with all other non-ferrous metals representing the remaining portion.