China Al Imports and Exports Data Analysis in June 2012
Shanghai, Jul. 30 (SMM) –
Customs data show China’s bauxite imports during June fell 70.38% YoY, and were down sharply MoM, to only 1.0238 million mt. YTD imports through June increased 23.22% YoY to 25.4162 million mt. The sharp drop in June imports was due mainly to a 93.10% drop in imports from Indonesia, falling to only 187,400 mt from May’s 5.57 million mt. The bauxite export ban announced in February by the Indonesian government required overseas businesses dealing with Indonesian bauxite exports to construct alumina projects in Indonesia, as well as increasing bauxite export tariffs in June by 20%. This caused the surge in imports in May, but a sharp decline in June. China’s total bauxite imports in May were a record high 6.2742 million mt, 5.5639 million mt of which was supplied by Indonesia.
China’s bauxite imports from Australia and Malaysia remained stable, with Australia supplying 600,000-800,000 mt and Malaysia providing 40,000-50,000 mt. China also began importing bauxite from India this past March, with monthly volumes near 50,000 mt. That figure climbed to 140,000 mt in June, due mainly to the loss of imports from Indonesia. The plunge in Indonesian bauxite imports had a direct impact on alumina output at Chinese producers. SMM surveys have revealed repeated cuts in output at Chalco, Shandong Xinfa, Shandong Weiqiao, Chongqing Bosai, and Shandong Lubei, all producers which rely heavily on imported ores. This year, Chalco has cut its alumina output by 1.7 million mt/yr, spread among three Chalco subsidiaries.
Alumina imports in June grew 324.05% YoY, to 306,400 mt, but fell 57.19% MoM. Total imports from January to June also rose 161.38% YoY, to 2.4653 million mt, and due mainly to falling overseas alumina prices. SMM data shows the average FOB alumina price in Australia, the major alumina supplier to China, fell in June by USD 7/mt, to USD 312/mt, then fell further in July by another USD 7/mt, to USD 305/mt. The CFR alumina price at Lianyungang port also fell to USD 328/mt.
China’s primary aluminum imports in June grew to 39,256 mt, up 471% YoY and 14% MoM. Aluminum is now in short supply around the world, except in China. Premiums for aluminum ingots at bonded areas have recently climbed above USD 220/mt, and delivery problems at LME warehouses, as well as the present SHFE/LME aluminum price ratio, are depressing aluminum imports.
China’s aluminum semis exports in June fell to 270,000 mt, down 8% YoY, but up 4% MoM. The unexpected growth in exports was in the form of aluminum plate, sheet and strip. The time from producing aluminum semis to delivery at ports varies somewhat, but is usually one month. With a SHFE/LME aluminum price ratio between 7.7-8.0 from mid-April to early June, Chinese aluminum ingot prices were higher than overseas sources, which hurt aluminum semis exports. SMM attributes China’s increased aluminum semis exports during June to two factors. First, some businesses were trying to meet half-year export targets and advanced export volumes. Second, high premiums for overseas ingots helped highlight the low cost for Chinese aluminum semis. China exported 77,000 mt of aluminum extrusions, down 2,000 mt MoM, and 57,000 mt of aluminum foil, down 7,000 mt MoM. Exports of aluminum plate, sheet and strip unexpectedly grew by 24,000 mt since producers were able to cut prices in order to win orders.