SHANGHAI, Feb. 10 (SMM) -- According to China Customs, China imported 1.88 million mt of alumina during 2011, down 56.39% YoY. Alumina imports in December were 200,000 mt, down 50.84% YoY.
China’s alumina imports were still mainly from Australia, with imports from Australia accounting for 96.80% and reaching 1.82 million mt. According to the analysis of domestic alumina importers, imported alumina is still mainly used by CHALCO and other 11 large aluminum producers.
SMM believes there are two reasons behind lower China’s alumina imports in 2011. First, domestic alumina capacity and output grew continuously. SMM statistics show that China’s alumina capacity increased to above 50 million mt during 2011, with alumina output growing to 37.4 million mt, up 5 million mt from 2010. Second, the price ratio of imported alumina to domestic alumina was also a major reason. Traders will only import alumina as long as imported alumina prices are lower than domestic alumina prices.
According to SMM sources, China’s alumina imports in 1Q and 4Q 2011 were much higher than those in 2Q and 3Q. Although traders sign long-term contracts with alumina producers, the gap between imported and domestic alumina prices still exists, and traders will only put imported alumina into domestic markets as long as average imported alumina prices are lower than domestic alumina prices. If imported alumina enjoys no price advantage compared with domestic alumina, traders will sell imported alumina in international markets. In this context, the price gap between domestic and imported alumina also directly affects the total amount of imported alumina that flows into domestic markets.