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China 2020 aluminium output roars to annual record high

  • She sees aluminium production in China, which aims to cap its annual capacity at around 45 million tonnes, growing by another 6.5% in 2021.
18 Jan 2021

China produced 37.08 million tonnes of aluminium in 2020, official data showed on Monday, setting an annual record as smelters cashed in on soaring prices, with December output also hitting a monthly all-time high even as the rally cooled.

Primary aluminium production in December was 3.27 million tonnes, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. That was up 2.8% from 3.182 million tonnes in November, which had one less day, and beating the previous monthly record of 3.2 million tonnes in October.

Full-year output in China, the world's largest aluminium producer, surpassed the last annual peak of 35.802 million tonnes for 2018, Reuters records of NBS data show. Production had dropped in 2019 for the first time in a decade.

Shanghai aluminium prices fell 4.2% in December as a spectacular rebound from the coronavirus outbreak that saw them gain 22.5% over 2020 ran out of steam. They remained well above break-even levels for Chinese smelters, however.

CRU analyst Wan Ling said another 300,000 tonnes of annual smelting capacity in China was put into production in December, in Inner Mongolia and the emerging smelting hub of Yunnan.

That by far exceeds the 20,000 tonnes of annual capacity Wan estimates has been cut for China's winter heating season.

She sees aluminium production in China, which aims to cap its annual capacity at around 45 million tonnes, growing by another 6.5% in 2021.

Meanwhile, production of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel - rose 8.6% year-on-year in December to 5.75 million tonnes, setting a new monthly record above the previous peak of 5.492 million tonnes set in November.

Annual output for this group - which also includes tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium - also hit a record high, rising 5.5% from 2019 to 61.68 million tonnes.

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