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BEIJING: China’s daily aluminium output in January and February rose to its highest since mid-2021 despite pollution curbs in the heating season and during the Winter Olympics, as smelter hubs located away from the capital Beijing maintained operations.

Primary aluminium output in China, the world’s largest aluminium producer, however, was down 1.4% year-on-year at 6.33 million tonnes in January and February combined, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. This compares with 6.45 million tonnes in the first two months of 2021.

The January-February 2022 data indicates that output averaged 107,288 tonnes per day, the highest daily levels since June 2021, according to Reuters’ calculations.

Easing supply concerns, demand doubts weigh on base metals

The bureau combines data for January and February due to the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in early February this year.

“The Winter Olympics had little impact on primary aluminium (output),” said Paul Adkins, managing director of consultancy AZ Global which is based in Zibo, Shandong province, as major production centres are not close to Beijing.

“The big question is expected production for March and April. Yunnan province has released energy permits,” Adkins said. “We expect a big increase in the next two months … to as much as 3.5 million tonnes in March,” he said, as Yunnan is a key aluminium producing province.

China had cut production of energy-intensive aluminium in some regions last year, aiming to limit power consumption to meet climate goals and tackle electricity shortages, but some smelters had began to return to previous output levels late last year.

Output of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminium, lead, zinc and nickel - fell 0.5% year-on-year in January-February to 10.51 million tonnes, the bureau said.

This group also includes tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium.

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