SHANGHAI, May 15 (SMM) – Operating rates across China's silicon plants in April fell 6.6 percentage points from March and stood at 34.8%, an SMM survey showed.
April's figure, however, was up 6.6 percentage points from the same month in 2017.
Domestic output of silicon in April shrank 11.6% from March and registered at 181,100 mt in metal content. This is up 32.8% from last year.
Lower operating rates in Xinjiang accounted for the declines, SMM learned. Silicon plants in Xinjiang operated at 41.9% in April, down 10 percentage points from March. The drop is likely to have affected silicon output of some 16,000 mt. Hoshine Silicon's new plant in Xinjiang cut production as electricity charges rose 0.03 yuan/kWh in April. The plant currently operates about eight or nine of its 20 new furnaces. Silicon plants in Yili were suspended from mid-April for about 10 days as power stations underwent maintenance.Most resumed production by the end of April.
Supplies of silicon from south China remained unchanged as most plants continued to undergo maintenance in preparation for operating at full capacity in the upcoming rainy season.
Most silicon plants in Sichuan province will resume production from June when electricity fees decline in the rainy season. In the Ya'an and Liangshan areas of Sichuan, few plants returned to operation. Silicon plants in Aba and Leshan that mostly produced chemical-grade silicon, operated only one furnace in April, SMM learned.
As Nujiang, Yunnan province entered the rainy season on May 1, all silicon plants in Nujiang have resumed operation, with half already at full capacity.
In anticipation of the rainy season in June, the Baoshan area of Yunnan province saw 60% of its silicon plants operating normally. Plants in the Dehong area are likely to resume production in June.
SMM believes that operating rates of the silicon industry will rebound to 41% in May.
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