METALS Aluminium prices lifted to 10-year high by China concerns

Employees work at the production line of aluminium rolls at a factory in Zouping, Shandong province, China November 23, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

LONDON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Aluminium prices hit their highest in more than 10 years on Tuesday as smelters in top producer China faced tougher power controls, stoking supply worries for the energy-intensive metal.

The government in China's Guangxi region, an aluminium and alumina production hub, on Monday called for tougher controls on energy consumption in a statement issued after a teleconference.

The region is China's third-biggest producer of alumina, a primary product of aluminium, with output of 925,500 tonnes in July, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Aluminium prices have been supported by production curbs in Chinese smelting regions often aimed at easing the strain on the power grid.

A stream of announcements from China about the challenges faced by smelters, combined with soaring global demand, have buttressed prices, said Wood Mackenzie analyst Uday Patel.

China's production would still rise this year compared with last year, albeit at a slower pace, he said, adding that its output is about 500,000-600,000 tonnes lower than was expected at the start of 2021.

Meanwhile, Consultancy Mysteel said that eight aluminium smelting companies in Guangxi will have to keep their September production at a maximum of 80% of average monthly output in the first half of the year.

That could equate to a reduction in annual operating capacity of 475,000 tonnes, it said.

Benchmark three-month aluminium climbed 2.7% to $2,722 a tonne by 1635 GMT after touching its highest since May 2011 at $2,726.50.

The most-traded October aluminium contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed 1.2% up at 21,390 yuan ($3,311) a tonne, hovering near its highest since Aug. 2008.

SPREADS: The LME cash aluminium contract was trading at a premium of $21 a tonne to the three-month contract , indicating tightening nearby supplies.

DOMINANT POSITION: Exacerbating the tight situation was a large position accounting for 50-80% of available inventories, LME data showed.

OTHER PRICES: LME copper rose 1.3% to $9,530 a tonne, zinc was flat at $3,002, lead shed 1.5% to $2,262 and tin advanced by 1% to $33,900.

Nickel jumped by 3.2% to $19,610 and hit record prices on ShFE, supported by low stocks and higher demand.

Reporting by Zandi Shabalala Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen and Tom Daly Editing by Alexander Smith and David Goodman

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