China's Henan Shenhuo to start up Yunnan aluminium smelter on Dec. 31

BEIJING, Dec 26 (Reuters) - China’s Henan Shenhuo Group will at the end of this month put into production the first 150,000 tonnes per year line of its aluminium smelting project in the Wenshan prefecture of Yunnan province, company officials said on Thursday.

Wenshan, which has abundant hydropower resources for the energy-intensive smelting process, is emerging as a major centre for China’s aluminium industry, with top producers China Hongqiao Group and state-owned Chinalco building projects there.

A spokesman for listed unit Henan Shenhuo Coal and Power confirmed the project would start on Dec. 31 but referred further questions to the parent company, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shenhuo is moving around 450,000 tonnes of annual aluminium smelting capacity from Henan, in central China, to the southwestern province of Yunnan for the first phase of what it planned to be a 900,000 tonnes project.

The group said on its official Wechat account on Wednesday that the initial 150,000 tonne stage was ready and would soon be powered up.

“It will take around one month for product to come out after the switch-on,” said a second official, who declined to be identified, adding that the plant would reach the full 150,000 tonne annual production rate by March.

The project was initially supposed to start up in July this year but has been delayed by poor weather.

Shanghai aluminium prices were down 1.1% at 14,085 yuan ($2,012.75) a tonne as of 0620 GMT, heading for their first drop in eight trading days.

$1 = 7.0886 Chinese yuan Reporting by Tom Daly; editing by Richard Pullin