China July aluminum output hits record high after power restrictions loosened

Aluminum rolls. (Shutterstock image)

China’s primary aluminum production rose 5.6% to a record monthly high at 3.43 million tonnes in July from a year earlier, with smelters ramping up production as power restrictions were eased.

July’s output was up 1.2% from 3.39 million tonnes in the prior month, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. The previous record was 3.42 million tonnes marked in May.

The world’s top metals producer and consumer has seen a gradual pick-up in smelter activity in recent months as well as new capacity added in some regions such as the Yunnan and Gansu provinces.

This compares with production cuts last year when Yunnan province and other southern regions limited power due to a severe drought and restrictions aimed at reducing pollution.

Rising supply and a pandemic-induced slide in demand has weighed on the price of aluminum, a metal widely used in the construction and auto sectors.

The most-traded August aluminum contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange SAFc1 sank to 17,300 yuan ($2,559.51) a tonne on July 15, the lowest level since April 2021.

Outside of China, aluminum production, which is an energy-intensive process, has been curtailed amid a surge in electricity and energy prices, particularly in Europe.

For the first seven months of the year, China produced 22.95 million tonnes, up 1.1% from the same period last year, the data showed.

Production of 10 nonferrous metals – including copper, aluminum, lead, zinc and nickel – climbed 4.8% to 5.63 million tonnes in July from a year earlier.

Output in the first seven months for the year rose 1.4% to 38.30 million tonnes. The other non-ferrous metals are tin, antimony, mercury, magnesium and titanium.

($1 = 6.7591 Chinese yuan)

(By Siyi Liu and Emily Chow; Editing by Kim Coghill and Edwina Gibbs)

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