According to Chinese customs data, China’s
shipments of bauxite (HS code 25083000) in January-July 2021
surged to 554,510 tonnes from 365,812 tonnes a year earlier,
Chinese customs data showed. The major importers of
China’s bauxite were the Netherlands (128,722
tonnes), Japan (86,152 tonnes), India (78,517 tonnes), the
United States (50,810 tonnes) and Taiwan (29,377 tonnes).
Total exports of bauxite to the Netherlands showed a jump of
255.73% from 36,185 tonnes in January-July 2020. Shipments to
the US rose by 171.48%, to India by 108.42%, to Taiwan by
29.33% and to Japan by 15.04%.
Meanwhile, export volumes of WFA (HS code 28181090) from China
jumped by 52.37% year on year in January-July to 212,863 tonnes
compared with 139,706 tonnes a year earlier. The five principal
destinations for this material were Japan (37,881 tonnes),
India (32,688 tonnes), the Netherlands (20,688 tonnes), South
Korea (19,945 tonnes) and the US (15,833 tonnes).
Shipments to major destinations all showed significant
increases in the first seven months of the year. Shipments to
the Netherlands soared by 240.60%, to India by 105.97%, to
Japan by 60.79%, to the US by 40.46% and to South Korea by
Similarly, China’s exports of BFA (HS Code:
28181010) totaled 286,717 tonnes in January-July, up by 26.34%
from a year earlier when exports were 226,935 tonnes, according
to Chinese customs data.
Major importers of China’s BFA during the period
were Japan (47,036 tonnes), the US (36,012 tonnes), India
(24,188 tonnes), the Netherlands (23,003 tonnes) and South
Korea (21,563 tonnes). Total shipments to the Netherlands
surged by 367.92% in the first seven months, while those to
India rose by 125.28%. Shipments to Japan increased by 22.51%
and those to South Korea by 17.01%.
The rapid growth in China’s bauxite and fused
alumina exports in the first seven months of this year could be
attributed to solid demand led by operational recoveries in
major consuming markets such as Europe, India and the US,
according to sources.
Crude steel output in the European Union reached 90.8 million
tonnes in January-July, up by 20.1% from a year earlier, while
India’s output stood at 68 million tonnes over the
same period, up by 28.7% against the corresponding period of
last year, according to World Steel Association data.
Given that bauxite and fused alumina are major upstream
materials for refractories used in the steelmaking sector, the
robust growth in crude steel output boosted demand, according
to a bauxite producer source in China. "We shipped large
volumes of bauxite and fused alumina in bulk shipments last
month. I heard that there were about three bulk carriers loaded
with bauxite and fused alumina, most of which was [headed to]
European markets," the same source added.
Adding to the strong shipment volumes could be
buyers’ concern over short-term supply and
shipment delays affecting Chinese bauxite and fused alumina,
resulting from the global logistics bottlenecks and production
interruptions in the East Asian country, Fastmarkets
understands. Soaring freight costs, shipment delays and port
congestion continued to weigh on international exports.
In terms of supply, China’s bauxite and fused
alumina were at risk of tighter availability considering events
in major production regions such as Shanxi province for bauxite
and Henan and Shandong provinces for fused alumina, according
"While refractory-grade bauxite is in a supply-demand balance
at the moment, with relatively ample inventory, the outlook is
uncertain if you factor in the [likely disruption because of
the] Winter Olympics and the traditional winter halt [of
production] in Shanxi province," a second producer in China
told Fastmarkets. "We have received a notice requiring [that we
initiate] staggered operations from September, as a matter of
Elsewhere, production of both BFA and WFA is still under the
threat of low operation rates in major production hubs in Henan
and Shandong provinces, as well as Guizhou, due to power
shortages, increasing costs, and in some areas, the resurgence
of Covid-19 infections.
Fastmarkets’ price assessment for bauxite,
refractory-grade, 85%/2.0/3.15-3.2 (0-6mm), fob Xingang, was
$420-430 per tonne on August 19, narrowing downward by $10 per
tonne against the price at the start of the year.
Meanwhile, Fastmarkets’ fortnightly price
assessment for alumina, fused brown, min 95% Al2O3, refractory
sized (0-6mm), fob China, was $750-770 per tonne on August 19,
up by 10.95% at the mid-point from the start of 2021.
And the assessment for alumina, fused white, 25kg bags, cif
Europe, was €720-830 ($846-975) per tonne, up by 13.14%
against the start of the year.