SHANGHAI, Jan. 23 (SMM) – According to China Customs, China imported 3.54 million mt of bauxite in December 2012, down 21.81% YoY. YTD imports through December were 39.61 million mt, down 11.28% YoY.
SMM data indicates China imported 2.25 million mt of bauxite from Indonesia during December 2012, down 38.45% YoY. YTD imports were 27.9 million mt, also down 21.43% YoY. China’s imports of Australian bauxite grew 12.80% YoY to 9.47 million mt in 2012, and imports of Indian bauxite also increased 109.05% YoY to 1.31 million mt.
China increased imports of bauxite from other countries after Indonesia banned bauxite exports. China diversified its country of origin as well. Before Indonesia restricted bauxite exports, China mainly imported bauxite from Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, India and Guyana. Following Indonesia’s export restrictions, China began to source bauxite from Fiji, Jamaica, Brazil and Guinea.
SMM indicates China’s imports of Indonesian bauxite trended up in 4Q 2012 and the number of importers also gradually increased. Alumina producers, who cut production earlier because of bauxite shortage, are progressively restarting idled capacity. As such, China’s demand for bauxite will rebound in the near term. However, the Indonesian government has sent mixed signals regarding any relaxation of controls on raw ore exports. Therefore, some traders in China are remaining on the sidelines. Chinese enterprises with on intention of establishing plants in Indonesia are now only able to source bauxite from traders in Indonesia.