November 7, 2018 / 4:59 AM / 6 days ago

China's booming alumina exports held steady in October - Chalco president

SHANGHAI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - China’s exports of alumina last month were roughly equal to September’s bumper volumes, the president of Aluminum Corp of China Ltd , said on Wednesday.

“I estimate that October was more or less the same as September,” Lu Dongliang told Reuters on the sidelines of a signing ceremony at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. The Chinese company, also known as Chalco, is one of the world’s biggest alumina producers.

China this year has been exporting unusually high volumes of alumina, a substance used to make aluminium, amid supply constraints caused by a now-concluded strike at Alcoa’s operations in Western Australia, an outage at Norsk Hydro’s Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil, and U.S. sanctions on Russia’s United Company Rusal.

Exports surged more than fivefold to over 165,000 tonnes in September compared with August volumes, and customs data released last week showed cargoes were going as far afield as Iceland and Cameroon. Lu said current shipment levels were “regular”.

In northern China, producers of aluminium and alumina are just over one week away from winter output restrictions that take effect with the start of the heating season on Nov. 15.

There is no blanket requirement for 30 percent output cuts this year but Lu cautioned that the environmental protection measures “have not decreased compared to last year.”

Chalco cut back alumina output last winter, but it did not have to lower aluminium production because its aluminium plants are not in cities targeted for the reductions.

Lu declined to say if Chalco’s smelters were losing money at current Chinese aluminium prices, which are languishing near two-year lows.

He was unable to provide details of the contracts Chalco signed at the Expo with companies including Trafigura and Rio Tinto.

Trafigura CEO Jeremy Weir also later declined to comment on the deal, describing it as a confidential commercial agreement.

At the same event, Glencore signed a deal to supply copper concentrate to Yunnan Copper Co, a unit of Chalco parent Chinalco. (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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