Chinese alumina imports fell for eight consecutive months to
November 2016 against the same period in the previous year,
showing double-digit decline rates exceeding 50% on several
occasions, customs data shows.
The country imported just over 261,000 tonnes alumina last
November, marking a 32% drop in demand year-on-year
This is the latest monthly decrease after seven double-digit
declines in imports in the previous months, starting from
April, when deliveries into China fell 68% to just 102,000
July, August, September and October saw y-o-y imports slump
by or exceeding 60%.
On average in the period between April and November, Chinese
alumina imports fell by 53% against 2015.
Australia remained the largest supplier of alumina to China
in 2016 to date, although shipments declined 38% to 1.6m
tonnes. The producer dwarfed all competitors in terms of sales
to the country. For comparison, all other main suppliers to
China shipped volumes below 300,000 tonnes in the same
Only Indonesia saw its trade to China increase in the first
11 months of last year, reaching close to 282,000 tonnes.
The three other leading origins – Vietnam, India,
Brazil – posted lower shipments into China. Vietnamese
exports to China dropped 36% in January-November to below
277,000 tonnes, as did Indian (-66%, 211,757 tonnes) and
Brazilian shipments (-37%, 195,291 tonnes).
In the 11 months to November 2016, alumina shipments
reaching China totalled 2.66m. Compared with the same period
the year before, demand for imported material in the country
fell by 1.32m tonnes, equivalent to over one-third.
In value terms, total alumina trade to China in the period
lost almost half its value (-48%), falling to $746.8m in total
|Chinese alumina imports
|Source: Chinese customs data
|Chinese alumina exports
|Source: Chinese customs data
China’s own exports of alumina grades posted a
similarly stark slowdown in 2016 to November against peaks
reached during Q3-Q4 2015.
The latest available data shows November alumina exports out
of China at a mere 2,500 tonnes, or 97% down from 2015.
In January-November 2016, total alumina exports stood at
just over 104,000 tonnes, or down 64% y-o-y. Compounded by a
flatness in prices, exported value fell 54% in the period, to
Part of the decline may be related to the widespread
facility shutdowns that took place across China’s
main industrial areas beginning in the summer months of 2016,
as the government clamped down on polluting production
Under Beijing’s renewed efforts to enforce
anti-pollution measures, industrial activities are required to
now be powered by natural gas. This led to several
bauxite-producing factories that relied on coal energy being
closed, thus reducing the availability of raw material for
Further restrictions to bauxite and alumina processing
operations were imposed in October and December.
Sources speaking to IM in early January
noted that the availability of alumina products was tight on
the back of reduced Chinese production in the final months of