SHANGHAI, Jul. 11 (SMM) – China’s alumina imports totaled 90,000 mt in June, down 71% YoY and 55% MoM, the lowest level in 21 months. Imports amounted to 1.65 million mt in 1H, also down 33% YoY, data from China Customs showed.
China’s imported alumina came primarily from Australia. The CIF price of Australian alumina averaged USD 353/mt during the first five months of the year, against USD 413/mt (including tax). Alumina prices at port averaged RMB 2,560/mt (including port charges) during January-May, but have now risen to RMB 2,580-2,610/mt, assuming the foreign exchange of the yuan against the US dollar is 6.2.
The average CIF price of Australian alumina in May was little changed from the USD 351/mt seen during last year’s January-May.
China’s alumina imports began to drop in March. The decline in import volumes was attributable to growing supply and falling prices of domestic alumina.
New alumina capacity is being commissioned. Some aluminum smelters suspended production earlier this year and commissioning of new aluminum capacity in northwest China has slowed, leaving domestic alumina in surplus.
Falling aluminum prices weighted alumina prices down. Prices for long-term alumina contracts in June slid RMB 200/mt from the same period last year. Prices for imported alumina at ports, however, dipped a mere RMB 100/mt. Chinese producers thus preferred domestic alumina over imported material.
SMM believes China’s alumina imports will remain low until new aluminum capacity comes online aggressively and the price spread between imported and domestic alumina narrows.