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Glencore, Trafigura pick up aluminium in Qingdao court auctions

Commodity traders Glencore PLC and Trafigura have picked up a combined 70,479 tonnes of aluminium over the past week by winning online auctions of metal inventory dating back to China’s 2014 Qingdao warehousing scandal, according to the e-commerce platform that hosted the sales.

The stock, being auctioned on a JD.com site by the Qingdao Intermediate People’s Court, was formerly held by Dezheng Resources, the company accused of duplicating warehouse certificates to pledge metal as collateral for multiple bank loans.

The scandal rocked the metals industry and stung banks and trading houses for more than $3 billion. Dezheng founder Chen Jihong was handed a 23-year jail term in late 2018.

Glencore won an auction for aluminium ingots on Friday, bidding 485.43 million yuan ($68.55 million) for eight consignments totalling 39,745.76 tonnes, all of which entered storage in 2013 or 2014, according to a notice on JD.com.

That works out at around 12,213 yuan a tonne, a discount of 14.5% to the Shanghai aluminium closing price of 14,285 yuan a tonne on Friday. At the start of June 2014, when the scandal broke, Shanghai aluminium was trading at around 14,500 yuan a tonne.

Meanwhile, according to a separate notice on JD.com, Glencore rival Trafigura’s China unit on Aug. 18 picked up 30,733.148 tonnes of aluminium ingots for 375.11 million yuan, or around 12,205 yuan a tonne.

The ingots are “as good as new,” said one trader who participated in the bidding.

“Can’t say the same for alumina,” he added, referring to stock of the substance used to make aluminium, which has also been sold on the JD.com site.

Inner Mongolia aluminium smelter Huomei Hongjun won the sole alumina auction so far on Friday, with a bid of 129.5 million yuan for 63,585.5 tonnes. That works out at 2,037 yuan a tonne, versus a current alumina spot price SMM-ALM-NCHN of 2,490 yuan in northern China.

Glencore and Trafigura declined to comment, while Huomei Hongjun didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Tom Daly Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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