PARIS -(Dow Jones)- China will eventually become a net importer of aluminum but the timing of this shift is uncertain, the chief executive of Rio Tinto Alcan said Thursday.
"It may take some time, but we believe China will eventually turn into a net importer of aluminum, as it has for bauxite and for alumina," Jacynthe Cote said. "The question is when," she told a Metal Bulletin conference in Paris.
Cote said China won't become a destabilizing market force as a significant net exporter of aluminum, and noted cost pressures in China due to rising energy prices, and increased power tariffs for industrial users in 15 Chinese provinces.
"Though we have not yet seen large impacts (from these energy costs), we are watching the situation closely," she said. "Growth will continue in the northwest part of the country, but the coastal and central provinces will face significant power price pressure in addition to concerns about bauxite and alumina availability," she added.
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of aluminum.