Numbers released this week by Beijing show that the People’s Republic of China’s aluminium production rose to a new record high last year as imports of primary aluminium fell off steeply from the prior year’s total.
In 2022, aluminium smelters in China bested the prior year’s production by 4.5 percent, setting the new record at 40.21 million metric tons. December’s primary aluminium output totaled 3.43 million metric tons, topping November’s total by 20 thousand metric tons and surpassing the prior December’s total by 10.3 percent.
The per-day aluminium smelting total in December averaged at 110,645 metric tons per day, down from the average of 113,667 metric tons per day averaged in November.
Demand for aluminium struggled in 2022 on account of coronavirus restrictions and the toll they took on the domestic economy. While the economy struggled, power prices moderated, prompting aluminium smelters to produce at record levels. Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, and Guangxi saw the addition of new aluminium smelter capacity last year as well.
In December, aluminium smelters enjoyed strong profitability, as margins rose to around US$42.63 per metric ton owing to a corresponding rise in spot prices.
Meanwhile, aluminium imports in 2022 dropped by 25.6 percent on the year to 2.39 million metric tons, as harsh COVID-19 restrictions blunted domestic consumption. In 2021 Chinese ports saw 3.2 million metric tons arrive from foreign shores. Bauxite imports rose last year as well, beating 2021’s 107.37 million metric tons by 17 percent to 125.47 million metric tons.
In December, China imported 258,678 metric tons of primary aluminium, better by 6.3 percent on the year. Bauxite imports grew by 17 percent on the year to 10.15 million metric tons in December.