SHANGHAI, Jun. 24 (SMM) – China’s alumina imports plunged 90.4% to 313,000 tonnes in May due to waning demand, Shanghai Metals Market learned.
Chinese aluminum smelters preferred domestic alumina due to lower prices, curbing appetite for imports, SMM understood.
The imports soared by 56.28% year-on-year, though, and year-to-date imports through May totaled 2.08 million tonnes, up 53.4% year-on-year.
Alumina prices in Guangxi and Shanxi fell to 2,200-2,350 yuan per tonne ($ 357-381 per tonne) in mid-May due to mounting inventories at producers and sluggish aluminum prices. These prices were 300 yuan per tonne below those for imported alumina at the Port of Lianyungang. Domestic alumina thus gained favor.
In addition, imported alumina was piling up at ports in May as inbound shipments soared to 596,000 tonnes in April. This also deterred domestic traders from importing.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that aluminum smelters are now beginning to show interest in imported material, whose prices have drifted lower. The FOB and CIF prices of Australian alumina were $ 308 per tonne and $330 per tonne, respectively, in late June. Prices of imported alumina at the Port of Lianyungang lost nearly 50 yuan per tonne from mid-May to 2,450-2,500 yuan per tonne in late June.
In contrast with imported alumina, prices for domestic alumina actually lurched higher in June. Prices in Shanxi, Henan and Guangxi gained 30 yuan per tonne. Prices for domestic alumina look set to rise further in the near term as inventories continue to fall, one alumina producer told SMM.