China aluminum output hits daily record in September

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s aluminum production rose in September from a year earlier as prices recovered and new smelters came on line, official data showed on Monday, with daily output reaching a record high.

FILE PHOTO: Aluminum bar stock is seen inside a factory in Dongguan, China, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

The world’s top producer of the metal churned out 3.16 million tonnes of primary aluminum in September, the National Bureau of Statistics said, up 7.9% from a year earlier.

That equates to daily output of 105,333 tonnes, a record for daily production.

Last month’s output was down slightly from the record 3.171 million tonnes produced in August, which has one more day than September.

aluminum prices have seen a steady recovery from four-year lows hit in March, when the coronavirus outbreak ravaged demand, incentivising smelters to produce as much metal as possible. Shanghai aluminum prices fell 1.3% in September but hit their highest in 2-1/2 years on Monday.

In the first nine months of 2020, aluminum production totalled 27.45 million tonnes, the bureau said, up 2.8% from a year earlier and on course to set a full-year record after a rare fall in 2019.

Research house Antaike estimates 375,000 tonnes of new annual capacity came on stream last month and a further 160,000 tonnes of capacity restarted.

Among the smelters to launch new projects were China Hongqiao Group and Yunnan aluminum, both in Wenshan in Southwest China’s Yunnan province, said CRU analyst Wan Ling.

“(September production rose) due to the ramp up of new capacities in Yunnan and Sichuan,” said Wan.

Wan also pegged China’s aluminum output for the last quarter of the year at 9.404 million tonnes, a 7.1% gain from the corresponding period last year and up 1.5% from the previous quarter, due to the new capacities and restarts.

China’s production of 10 nonferrous metals - including copper, aluminum, lead, zinc and nickel, rose to 5.32 million tonnes in September from the previous month. It was also up about 7% from September 2019, and set a monthly record high.

January-September output for this group - which also includes tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium - was up 3.5% year-on-year at 45.18 million tonnes.

Reporting by Emily Chow and Tom Daly; Editing by William Mallard, Himani Sarkar and Ana Nicolaci da Costa