SHANGHAI, Feb 11 (SMM) – China’s imports of bauxite jumped in 2018 as the Chinese government’s environmental restrictions and crackdowns on the black market tightened domestic supplies and as output of alumina expanded.
China imported 85.61 million mt of bauxite in 2018, up 24.5% from 2017, data from the Customs showed. In the first 10 months of last year, China’s output of bauxite rose only 1.8% year on year and imports accounted for 45% of overall bauxite supplies. For the same year, China produced 70.48 million mt of alumina, up 3.01% from a year earlier.
Production lines at most alumina refineries in China were designed for domestic ores. Growing output of alumina expanded consumption of domestic bauxite, resulting in a decline in the quality of ores. Lower quality prompted alumina refineries to use more ores and furthered tightened the supplies of domestic bauxite. Yunnan Aluminium and State Power Investment’s alumina unit in Shanxi have begun to use mixed raw materials of domestic and imported bauxite for production.
SMM assessments showed that prices of seaborne bauxite averaged $54/mt in 2018, up $3/mt from 2017. Gains in volumes and prices of imported bauxite suggest that China’s demand for seaborne bauxite is on the rise.
As of 2016, China’s reserves of bauxite took up for 17% of the globe’s total while output of alumina accounted for more than 50%.