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China alumina prices falling on imports, output
Aluminum Corp of China Ltd (Chalco), the country's top alumina producer, could cut its price for the material by around 10 percent later this month as high imports and increased domestic production drive down spot prices, traders and smelter officials said on ThursdaySpot alumina prices have fallen 15 percent in the past two months in China, the world's top user of the material used for aluminium production."High imports are weighing on local alumina prices," said a trading manager at a large aluminium smelter, which had booked spot imports for delivery in April-June.Spot alumina traded around 1,950 yuan ($286) per tonne versus 2,300 yuan in early April, traders and smelter officials said.Chalco is still offering spot alumina at 2,300 yuan after raising prices twice this year, according to its website. (www.chalco.com.cn)China produced more alumina than it needed in April, even as its alumina imports hit a 15-month high of 646,219 tonnes.
Imports could be sustained near multi-month highs of 500,000 tonnes level in coming months, smelter officials and traders predicted. Smelters had increased bookings of spot alumina in March and April due to low overseas prices. The booked spot shipments were set to arrive in China in April to June.Traders said smelters were not keen to place new orders for spot alumina on weaker Chinese prices and increased alumina inventories.
Spot foreign alumina is being indicated at $240 per tonne for delivery to China versus about $270 in early April, though some foreign alumina suppliers such as Noranda Aluminum and Suriname Aluminium have reduced production. Smelter officials, including the trading manager, said domestic alumina refineries had also restarted some idled and new capacity in April and May, anticipating a restart of capacity at aluminium smelters."We get more offers for locally produced alumina these days," a manager at a large smelter in Henan province said.But demand for alumina was weaker than many industry officials thought as restarts of some 2.5-3 million tonnes were less than expected, smelter officials said.
Chinese aluminium prices have hovered near the production cost for many smelters of around 12,000-13,000 yuan per tonne, limiting the scope for bringing on new or idled capacity.Spot aluminium prices in China have increased nearly 5 percent this month to 13,500 yuan on Thursday along with rises in copper prices, after hovering below 13,000 yuan for much of May.
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