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China June aluminium output falls for 2nd month, hit by power curbs

  • June aluminium output 3.29 mln T vs 3.32m T in May
  • H1 aluminium production up 10.1% y/y at 19.64m T
  • June overall nonferrous metal output 5.49m T, up 8% y/y
Published July 15, 2021
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BEIJING: China's primary aluminium output hit multi-year highs in the first half but production in June fell for a second straight month, official data showed on Thursday, as limits on power consumption in the smelting hub of Yunnan reined in production.

The world's top producer of the metal increased first half aluminium output to the most since at least 2015, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) records.

It produced 19.64 million tonnes of aluminium in January-June, up 10.1% from the first half of 2020, the data showed, as smelters were encouraged by aluminium prices well above break-even levels.

For June, China churned out 3.29 million tonnes of the metal, the NBS said. That was down from May's 3.32 million tonnes, but up 9.3% year on year.

China April aluminium imports rise 36% from prior month

Output was around 109,667 tonnes a day in June, versus 107,000 tonnes in May, which had one more day, according to Reuters calculations based on the NBS data.

Yunnan, home to about a tenth of China's aluminium capacity thanks to abundant hydropower resources, ordered smelters to reduce energy consumption in late May after severe drought hampered electricity generation.

The curbs remained in place for much of June and analysts say it could take smelters in Yunnan until August to start ramping up output again.

"The lack of water in Yunnan has hit June's number," said Paul Adkins, managing director of the Zibo-based aluminium consultancy AZ China said. "But AZ China does not expect the water shortage to affect Q3 production numbers, as those pots are now back to full speed, or on their way back."

Low inventory has supported aluminium prices, despite pressure from China's State Council and the release of metal from strategic reserves, Adkins said.

He expected aluminium production in 2021 to test the 40 million tonnes level as additional smelting capacity is due to enter the market in the fourth quarter.

Output of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel - was 5.49 million tonnes in June, the NBS said.

That was down from 5.45 million tonnes in May, which was the lowest since October 2020, but up 8% year-on-year.

First-half production for this group - which also includes tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium - was up 11% year-on-year at 32.55 million tonnes.

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China June aluminium output falls for 2nd month, hit by power curbs

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