Bauxite & Alumina ’17: Australian bauxite and alumina to expand reach into China as demand grows
Published: Monday, 03 April 2017
China needs more foreign alumina and bauxite; Market favours Australian exporters; Chinese imports predicted to double
Australia will strengthen its leading position as supplier
of alumina and bauxite to China in the coming years, delegates
heard at the 23rd Bauxite and Alumina conference in
Miami, held in March.
According to Andrew Wood, group executive for strategy and
development at Alumina Ltd, while China has historically been
highly reliant on internal alumina supply, some volumes of
foreign-produced alumina are being imported into the
Just over half (56%) of all alumina imports into China were
shipped from Australia in 2016, Wood told delegates during a
presentation, adding that China’s reliance on
Australia is expected to increase.
The logistical access into China for Australian material,
coupled with Australia’s own high capacity, will
be drivers of this trend, he said. Similar increases are also
forecast for bauxite.
Wood predicted that Chinese imports of bauxite will double
in the coming decade, from 52m tpa to 120m tpa by 2025, with
Australia likely to feature increasingly in bauxite exports to
He cited driving factors including growing demand for the
mineral in the long term from local metallurgical markets (as
well as non-met industries), together with a declining
availability of domestic resources, which is forcing Chinese
companies to increase their reliance on foreign material.
The latest trade data for the fourth quarter of 2016 showed
that Australia held its role as top supplier of bauxite to
As inflow of material increases, the new import-based
scenario may eventually force companies that are based inland
to move operations to locations with better access to sea
ports, Wood added.
"In our view, many Henan and Shanxi refineries will relocate
closer to the coast to be able to handle better imports of
bauxite from outside," he said.