SHANGHAI, Feb. 6 (SMM) -
According to China Customs, China imported 3.54 million mt of bauxite during December, down 22.71% YoY. YTD imports through December hit 39.61 million mt, also down 11.67% YoY. China imported 2.25 million mt of bauxite from Indonesia during December, down 38.45% YoY, and imported a total of 27.91 million mt from Indonesia during 2012, also down 21.43% YoY. SMM attributes the decline in bauxite imports to restrictions on exports imposed by the Indonesian government. Indonesia did relax some on the export controls during 4Q 2012, which helped China’s bauxite imports rebound slightly.
According to China Customs, China’s alumina imports hit 390,000 mt during December and 5.02 million mt for the entire year, up 166.90% YoY. Chinese alumina importers were mostly large aluminum producers, such as China Aluminum International Trading, Qinghai Qiaotou Aluminum & Electricity, Qingtongxia Aluminum, and Henan Yugang Longquan Aluminum. Imported alumina was mainly supplied by Australia, which accounted for 92% of China’s total imports during the first eleven months of 2012.
According to China Customs, China imported 14,382 mt of primary aluminum during December, up 13.8% MoM, but down 71.8% YoY. Despite the high SHFE/LME aluminum price ratio of 7.5-8.0 in November, LME aluminum premiums rose to more than USD 250/mt, pushing up aluminum ingot import costs. Many aluminum processors in China’s coastal areas showed high interest in the processing trade using supplied materials. A large proportion of China’s imported primary aluminum during December was in this form.
China exported 230,000 mt of aluminum semis during December, up 9.5% YoY, but down 4.2% MoM. LME aluminum prices in November were between USD 1,900-2,000/mt, causing the SHFE/LME aluminum price ratio to hover between 7.5 and 8.0, considered unfavorable for aluminum semis exports. The SHFE/LME aluminum price ratio began to fall in December, so SMM expects China’s aluminum semis exports to increase in January.