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The cost and technological structure of aluminium smelters worldwide

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  • Robert Gagne

    (Institut d'économie appliquee, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, 3000 chemin de la Cote-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal (Quebec), Canada, H3T 2A7)

  • Carmine Nappi

Abstract

A cost model is developed for the estimation of several technological parameters describing the production process of aluminium smelters worldwide. The model is similar to Baltagi and Griffin's (1988), but, instead of estimating technological change using a panel data set of firms, we estimate, among other things, the vintage effect, using a cross-section of aluminium smelters in operation throughout 1994. The vintage effect is defined as the variable cost differential that may be attributed to the utilization of a specific technical vintage in the production of aluminium in relation to another. Other technological measurements are also discussed: the scale effect or returns to scale and technological characteristic effects, i.e. the variable cost elasticities with respect to pot size and current intensity. The results show that considerable cost reductions may be expected from the change of old technical vintages to more recent ones. Also, results show that for a majority of smelters in the sample, returns to scale seem to be exhausted. Finally, variable costs are very sensitive to pot size in the sense that large cost reductions can be expected from the increase in pot size, an important characteristic of the technology used by smelters. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Gagne & Carmine Nappi, 2000. "The cost and technological structure of aluminium smelters worldwide," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 417-432.
  • Handle: RePEc:jae:japmet:v:15:y:2000:i:4:p:417-432
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    File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca:80/jae/2000-v15.4/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Diewert, Walter E & Wales, Terence J, 1987. "Flexible Functional Forms and Global Curvature Conditions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 43-68, January.
    2. Baltagi, Badi H & Griffin, James M & Rich, Daniel P, 1995. "Airline Deregulation: The Cost Pieces of the Puzzle," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(1), pages 245-260, February.
    3. Georges Dionne & Robert Gagné, 1996. "Progrès technique et croissance de la productivité : estimations sur un panel incomplet de firmes ayant des qualités de production différentes," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 126(5), pages 63-76.
    4. Baltagi, Badi H & Griffin, James M, 1988. "A General Index of Technical Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 20-41, February.
    5. Gagne, Robert & Ouellette, Pierre, 1998. "On the Choice of Functional Forms: Summary of a Monte Carlo Experiment," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 16(1), pages 118-124, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blomberg, Jerry & Söderholm, Patrik, 2011. "Factor demand flexibility in the primary aluminium industry: Evidence from stagnating and expanding regions," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 238-248, September.
    2. Jerry Blomberg & Bo Jonsson, 2011. "Evaluating the efficiency of the global primary aluminum smelting industry: a data envelopment approach," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 24(1), pages 29-44, July.

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