SHANGHAI, Jun. 13 (SMM) – China Customs data show that China imported 200,000 mt of alumina in May, down 72% YoY and 38% MoM. YTD imports through May totaled 1.56 million mt, also a drop of 28% from the same period last year. SMM attributes the sharp decline in alumina imports to domestic aluminum smelters cutting production and falling prices of domestic alumina.
SMM data reveal that twelve domestic aluminum smelters including Jiangsu Datun Aluminum and Guangxi Baise Yinhai Aluminum cut a combined 920,000 mt/yr in aluminum capacity during January-April. In June, another six aluminum producers including the Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco) and Qinghai Xinheng Aluminum planned to cut a total of 850,000 mt/yr in capacity. Further production cuts are expected in the future.
Tiandong alumina project of Guangxi Tiandong Jinxin Chemical, Wenshan alumina project of Yunnan Aluminum and other alumina projects are coming online, pushing alumina output up. The growth in alumina supply has intensified price competition, weighing alumina prices down.
Alumina prices in Guangxi have fallen from January’s RMB 2,530/mt to current RMB 2,370/mt, a 7% slump. Imported alumina prices at ports are now RMB 2,600/mt, a mere decline of RMB 100/mt from January. The result is that imported alumina has lost its price appeal over domestic material.
SMM expects China’s alumina imports to fall further as domestic alumina will continue to nibble away at market shares of imported material and as aluminum smelters cutting production will erode demand for alumina.