SHANGHAI, May 27 (SMM) – China imported 9.77 million mt of bauxite in April, up 68.2% from a year ago and 24.5% from a month ago, showed Customs data for eight-digit HS codes.
This brought imports in the first four months of 2019 to 35.58 million mt, standing 35.9% higher than the same period last year.
The Republic of Guinea, Australia and Indonesia remained the top three bauxite exporters to China. About 17.96 million mt of imports in January-April originated from Guinea, up 32% year on year as Chinese alumina refiners including Weiqiao, SPIC Shanxi, Bosai Nanchuan and Chalco Zhongzhou stepped up their procurement from the western African country, which owns the richest bauxite reserves in the world. Bauxite imports from Guinea are expected to maintain stable growth as Chinese aluminium companies expand their operations there.
Australian bauxite imports rose 16.5% to stand at 10.49 million mt in January-April, while Indonesian materials accounted for 4.63 million mt.
Indonesia eased its export ban on bauxite in early 2017. Imports from Indonesia gained 176.4% from a year earlier in January-April, boosting the share of the total imports to 13%.
SMM data showed that domestic production of bauxite came in at 35.02 million mt in the first four months of this year. Domestic supplies failed to exceed imports as falling ore quality and heavier environmental pressure affected domestic output and raised demand for imports. Miners overseas, meanwhile, ramped up their bauxite exports to China to chase higher demand from Shanxi and Henan.
Bauxite imports are likely to stay at highs in May as refineries that cut output due to environmental issues barely use imported materials as feedstock.