NINGBO, China, March 2 (Reuters) - China, the world's top aluminium producer, may produce 20 million tonnes of primary aluminium this year out of capacity of 25 million tonnes, an official from the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association said on Wednesday.
The figures would represent a rise of 24 percent from last year's production and a 14 percent increase in capacity.
Most smelters that had idled some capacity were restarting it, the powerful industry body's Beijing-appointed aluminium division chief Hu Zhang Ping told reporters on the sidelines of a forum in the eastern port city of Ningbo.
Electricity supplies fell between December last year and January, forcing smelters in the major producing provinces of Henan and Guizhou to close well over 1 million tonnes of capacity.
"Output should reach 20 million tonnes this year," Hu said.
Hu's 2011 output estimate was higher than the 19 million tonnes expected by top aluminium producer Chalco (2600.HK: Quote) (601600.SS: Quote) and a forecast of 19.5 million tonnes by Antaike, a research arm of the industry body.
He told the forum that China's aluminium industry was entering into a low-profit period and that supply would stay above demand in the domestic aluminium market in 2011-2015.
Annual capacity of primary aluminium is likely to rise to 30 million tonnes in 2015, he said.
In order to limit the capacity rise, Beijing has stopped accepting applications for the building of new aluminium smelting projects, Hu said.