MELBOURNE, Feb. 9 -- Aluminum demand is recovering and is expected to be about 10% higher in 2010 than it was in 2009, Alumina Ltd. (AWC.AU) Chief Executive John Bevan said Tuesday.
"Most of this growth will be in China, where record production was achieved in the fourth quarter (of 2009), up 50% on the low of the first quarter," he told analysts.
"Outside of China, the growth rate is more muted but it will be positive relative to 2009."
Bevan said supply and demand of alumina is expected to be in balance in 2010 with new supply going to satisfy Chinese smelter growth.
About 20% of the longer term alumina sales contracts of Alumina and its joint venture partner Alcoa Inc. (AA) roll over each year, and Bevan said new contracts were now being struck at prices that more closely reflect spot prices.
Bevan said the ramp up of the expansion of the Alumar alumina refinery in Brazil is going well and the plant should reach capacity in the first quarter of 2010.
Alumina and Alcoa are currently negotiating wage deals with workers at their alumina refineries in Western Australia state. Bevan said he expects agreements to be reached amicably but that there could be some limited industrial action.