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While the government has signalled some manoeuvring room, uncertainty surrounding bauxite supply will likely persist. The more volatile alumina imports fell by 55% y/y to 195Kt in March (down 45% m/m), but total Q1 im..

23 Apr 2013

LONDON (Commodity Online): China's bauxite imports fell by 12% in March y/y from last year’s elevated levels to 4.6Mt, but were still higher than the average of 3Mt per month registered in Q4 12, stated London based Barclays in its recent market analysis.

The sharp drop-off in mid- 2012 due to Indonesia’s export restrictions has eased, as Chinese producers built ample stocks beforehand and Indonesia resumed exports in a few months.

However, the data suggests that either Chinese smelters are building stocks again, as Q1 imports totalled 14Mt, 9% higher than the same period last year when they were stockpiling bauxite, or domestic refinery production is incredibly strong. Indonesia has threatened to cut off all raw mineral exports in 2014.

While the government has signalled some manoeuvring room, uncertainty surrounding bauxite supply will likely persist. The more volatile alumina imports fell by 55% y/y to 195Kt in March (down 45% m/m), but total Q1 imports of 1Mt were only 11% lower than last year.

China also imported 19Kt of primary aluminium in March, down by 70% y/y from last year’s high base. Imports have rebounded from 8.7Kt in February as arb reopened in late March.

Semis exports rose to 250Kt in March while imports held steady at 44Kt. As China became increasingly oversupplied but primary exports are subject to a high tariff, smelters may seek to export semis. So far, however, exports have risen only by 4% y/y in Q1.


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