Historical Milestones


The Group's history starts back in 1888, when, next to the Rheinfall in Neuhausen, Switzerland, the first European aluminium smelter was built. Although the initial production capacity was only a few 100 tons per year, the demand for the new, light and bright metal grew fast. The young and innovative company soon built additional smelters and became the largest aluminium company in Europe before the outbreak of world war I.


In 1912, a new process to produce rolled aluminium foil was invented and its industrial production was subsequently started. During the decades to come, rolled aluminium foils in various thicknesses and forms were among Alusuisse's most profitable semiproducts. The foil business represents the roots of the Group's actual packaging activities.


In order to safeguard the long-term raw material and metal supply, Alusuisse in 1969 initiated the exploration of one of the world's largest bauxite mines in Australia. Investments for this project, which also included an alumina plant and a sea harbour, exceeded Sfr. 1 billion. At the same time, new aluminium smelters were built in Iceland and Norway, where ample supply of low cost hydroelectrical energy was guaranteed. The Group's annual production of primary aluminium peaked in 1980 with 837'000 tons.

60's and 70's

During the 60's and 70's, Alusuisse's engineering know-how for smelters and alumina plants has been licenced to lightmetal producers all over the world.


In 1974, Alusuisse acquired Lonza Ltd, a Swiss chemicals company. Founded in 1897, Lonza initially focused its activities on the production of calcium carbide and some basic fine chemicals. By 1974, Lonza had plants in Visp (Switzerland), Scanzorosciate (Italy) and Mapleton (U.S.A.), and its activities covered a broad range of organic and anorganic chemicals, agrochemicals and polymers..


In 1990, all of the Group's existing packaging activities - representing sales of approx. Sfr. 1090 million at that time - were organized in a new division, named A-L Packaging.


With the acquisition of the Canada-based, internationally operating Lawson Mardon Group in 1994, A-L doubled its packaging activities at once. The entire packaging division was renamed from A-L Packaging into Lawson Mardon Packaging, representing Sfr. 2.8 billion of sales.

At the beginning of the nineties, A-L underwent a profound reorientation and refocused its entire business portfolio on high value-added activities. By mid 1994, the Group's three core competences - Chemicals, Packaging and Aluminium - had reached equal strength in terms of profitability and significance.

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