Mask frenzy gives breathing space to China's virus-hit aluminium sector

BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - China’s all-out mask production drive in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is on course to consume more than the weight of the Eiffel Tower in aluminium this year, research from consultancy Aladdiny said on Tuesday.

With China producing face masks at a rate of 116 million per day at the end of February, the required amount of aluminium - used in metal nose clips of some popular models - works out at 1,305 tonnes in a 30-day month, Aladdiny said in a note.

While it is unclear how long the epidemic will last, the annualised consumption rate of almost 16,000 tonnes comfortably exceeds the total weight of the 10,100-tonne Parisian landmark, which was built using iron.

However, demand from masks will barely make a dent in annual aluminium consumption in China, the world’s top producer and user of the metal found in everything from cars to cans, which is around 36 million tonnes.

Shanghai aluminium prices are languishing near one-year lows as a result of the virus, which has hit demand from manufacturing plants. (Reporting by Tom Daly; Editing by Mark Potter)