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China records higher aluminum, alumina trade with Russia in 2022

China’s primary aluminum imports from Russia rose for the sixth straight month in December 2022, while alumina exports also rose sharply, customs data showed Jan. 20.

The trade numbers between the two countries assume significance as China’s total aluminum imports from global destinations dipped sharply in 2022.

China’s primary aluminum imports fell 65.8% on the year to 540,409 mt in 2022, the customs data showed.

China’s aluminumimports rose 15.3% on the month and 55.8% on the year to 127,646 mt in December 2022, the customs data showed.

China’s aluminum imports from Russia rose 47.6% on the month to 82,833 mt in the same month, accounting for 64.9% of the country’s total imports.

China’s alumina exports rose 741.4% year on year to 1 million mt in 2022, according to customs data.

China’s alumina exports reached 57,349 mt in December 2022 compared to only 3,969 mt over the same period in 2021.

The year-on-year surge was attributed to increasing shipments to Russia.

Exports of China’s alumina to Russia rose by 54.6% on the month to 51,781 mt in December, taking up 90.3% of the nation’s total exports.

China’s alumina imports reached 124,193 mt in December, down 36.7% on the month and 51.3% on the year.

China’s imports from its largest supplier Australia fell by 12.2% on the month to 64,000 mt in December 2022 while volumes from Indonesia declined 67% month on month to 29,770 mt.

Australian alumina prices were nearly flat to Chinese-origin products on import parity terms Jan. 20. The calculations are based on Jan. 20 Platts assessments at $360/mt FOB Australia and Yuan 2,965/mt ex-works Shanxi, and a freight rate of $20.70/mt to ship 30,000 mt from Western Australia to Lianyungang, China, showed data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Australian alumina was at about a $5-$10/mt discount to Chinese production on import parity terms on Dec. 20.

China’s alumina prices rallied from November 2022 and stayed elevated going into December as production from refineries that had earlier curtailed capacity slowly recovered. At the same time, production and logistics also improved due to easing COVID-19-related restrictions.

China’s bauxite imports reached 125.5 million mt in 2022, up 17% year on year, customs data showed. China’s imports of bauxite are expected to remain elevated in view of new projects continuing to come online in 2023, sources said.

Imports reached 10.1 million mt in December 2022, down 13.9% month on month but up 17% year on year.

Bauxite ore imports from Guinea — China’s largest supplier — rose by 64.9% on the month and 75.8% on the year to 6.2 million mt in December.

Imports from Indonesia reached 1 million mt in 2022, down 26.3% on the month and 55.6% on the year.

Indonesia will ban bauxite ore exports from June to encourage domestic processing and improve natural resource processing industry, in line with current local mining laws.

Chinese consumers are actively seeking alternatives for Indonesian ore to ensure supplies, sources said.
Source: Platts

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