BEIJING, Jan. 25 -- Aluminum Corp. of China, the country's largest maker of the metal, will speed up overseas resource acquisition and exploration this year as one of its key objectives for 2010, Chairman Xiong Weiping said.
Chinalco, as the Beijing-based company is known, will "utilize all its resources and energy," to speed up acquisitions, Xiong said in a speech to staff posted on the company's Web site today. It also wants to expand output of other metals, Xiong said.
Chinese companies spent more than $30 billion buying up mines and oil deposits globally last year, taking advantage of the global recession to add resources to feed domestic economic growth. Chinalco's offer to invest $19.5 billion in Rio Tinto Group was rebuffed last year by the world's second-largest iron ore exporter.
Chinalco posted a profit in the second half, recovering from a loss in August, the company said in the statement today, without giving a figure. Sales rose to 142 billion yuan ($21 billion) in 2009, it said. That's 10 percent higher than last year's 128.7 billion yuan.
Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the Hong Kong-listed unit of Chinalco, fell 2.2 percent to HK$8.63 at 11:17 a.m. local time. The unit had forecast on Jan. 18 a loss for 2009 on lower metal prices and demand, without giving specific details.
Aluminum prices plunged 35 percent in 2008 as the recession crimped demand from carmakers and builders, hurting profit at metal producers. Rising demand has since prompted the restart of smelters in China.
Capacity usage rates at Chinalco's aluminum and alumina plants exceeded 90 percent in December, Xiong said in the statement today.
Production costs of aluminum dropped 17 percent and that of alumina 18 percent, the company said. Alumina is a semi-finished material to make aluminum, which is used in packaging and cars.
Copper production costs dropped 35 percent, it said. The company owns 49 percent stake in the state-owned parent of Yunnan Copper Industry Co.
Chinese companies will step up the pace of overseas acquisitions as the financial crisis ends, Xiong had said in September.