China to auction another 150,000 tonnes of state metal reserves on Oct 9

Bundles of copper cathode. (Image by ChrisFountain, Wikimedia Commons).

China will auction another 150,000 tonnes of industrial metals from state stockpiles on Oct. 9, the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration said on Monday, as it continues with a rare release of inventories aimed at cooling high prices.

In the fourth round of metal auctions this year, the administration will sell off 30,000 tonnes of copper, 50,000 tonnes of zinc and 70,000 tonnes of aluminum on online platforms operated by Norinco and China Minmetals Corp.

The volumes match those in the last auctions on Sept. 1 and will bring the total amount of metal released in 2021 to 570,000 tonnes. Prior to this year, Beijing had not sold off state metal reserves for more than a decade.

China, the world’s top metals consumer, has this year repeatedly tried to tame a rally in commodity prices, which have led to higher raw material costs for its manufacturers. The metal auctions are only open to manufacturers and fabricators.

All of the aluminum on offer in the latest round was produced in China and most entered storage in the first half of 2009, a breakdown of the metal to be auctioned showed.

That suggests it was bought by the Chinese government at low prices in the wake of the global financial crisis to provide support to struggling smelters.

London aluminum prices slipped to as low as $1,279 a tonne in February 2009 but are currently just under $3,000 after hitting a 13-year high this month.

Around one-third of the copper being sold also entered warehouses in 2009, although most dates back to the 1990s, while the zinc was split between 2009, 2013 and 1998.

The auctions will take place on a Saturday, although Oct. 9 has been designated working day in China after a week-long public holiday from Oct. 1-7.

(By Min Zhang and Tom Daly; Editing by Louise Heavens and Bernadette Baum)


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