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SMM Analysis of Shandong Alumina and Aluminum Capacity Cut Policy
Aug 1,2017 13:27CST
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Source:SMM
The government of Shandong, China’s major alumina and aluminum producing provinces, recently issued 2017 Comprehensive Crackdown Program for Big Environmental Protection Issues. 

SHANGHAI, Aug. 1 (SMM) – The government of Shandong, China’s major alumina and aluminum producing provinces, recently issued 2017 Comprehensive Crackdown Program for Big Environmental Protection Issues. 

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Under the program, alumina, aluminum and carbon producers that meet emission discharge standards are ordered to cut production by over 30%, around 30% and over 50%, respectively, during November 15, 2017-March 15, 2018, based on the number of production lines, while those who do not meet emission discharge standards are ordered to halt production. The program shows the local government’s determination to implement production controls during winter heating season.    

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The program is slightly different from 2017 Air Pollution Prevention Program for Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Surrounding Regions issued by the central government early this year, which stipulates that aluminum smelters will cut production by over 30% based on the number of electrolytic cells during winter heating season, that alumina producers will cut production by around 30% based on the number of production lines, and that carbon producers who fail to meet emission discharge standards will shut down completely and that carbon producers who meet emission discharge standards will cut production by over 50% based on the number of production lines.     

 Monitoring data from Shandong Environmental Protection Bureau during March-May 2017 showed smoke dust from #8 chimney of Chiping Xinfa Huayu Alumina Co. was 0.6 folds higher than limit. The company frequently failed to meet smoke dust discharge standards during 2016-2017. Smoke dust from #6 chimney of Shandong Xinfa Huayuan Aluminum Co. was 4 folds higher than limit, and the company did not meet discharge standards occasionally earlier. Other aluminum and alumina producers in Shandong meet discharge standards.      

The program issued by Shandong lacks details for implementation. First, Shandong Xinfa and Shandong Weiqiao have both closed illegal aluminum capacity. It’s unknown aluminum production to be cut should be based on the number of production lines before or after the cut. Production lines are idled at some alumina producers. It’s unknown alumina production to be cut should be based on the number of lines in existence or in operation. Second, aluminum production is ordered to be cut by around 30% based on the number of electrolytic cells. Power current varies from electrolytic cell to electrolytic cell, so the amount of aluminum capacity to be cut varies as well. Market estimates that aluminum capacity will be cut by 30%. Smelters will close electrolytic cells with small power current at first, so the amount of aluminum capacity to be cut might be smaller than market had estimated. Alumina production is ordered to be slashed by 30% based on production lines. The number of alumina production lines is small, so the number of lines to be closed may be non-integer after multiplying 30%, in which case the amount of capacity actually closed may deviate a lot from the required amount if rounding is adopted. If alumina production is closed by 30% based on capacity, it will be hard to monitor. Moreover, alumina capacity varies by production line.             

To sum up, while the government of Shandong is determined to implement winter cuts, the amount of capacity to be actually closed will be hard to calculate.   

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