Despite falling prices in the year’s penultimate month, shipments of primary aluminium in November bested totals from both last month and the previous year.
Per numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday, the Middle Kingdom shipped 2.82 million metric tons overseas in November, good for a 3.9-percent rise over October’s total of 2.72 million metric tons. Last month’s total hurtled past November 2017’s aluminium exports by 19.2 percent.
According to calculations made by Reuters, Chinese producers turned out 94 thousand metric tons of primary aluminium per diem, up from October’s daily total of 88 thousand metric tons. November’s daily output was the highest since July, which also saw an uptick in primary aluminium production.
All the while, prices at the Shanghai exchange weakened as supplies surged. Prices fell by 2.8 percent during the month, dropping to a two-year low and squeezing already minuscule metals margins.
“New capacity increases (probably) outpaced the capacity closures,” explained Argonaut Securities analyst Helen Lau to Reuters yesterday.
“The cost pressure is lower and that also helps (smelters) to increase production,” she continued, noting the role lower bauxite and alumina prices may have had last month.
Across the year’s first eleven months, Chinese smelters produced 31.45 million metric tons of aluminium, a 7.5-percent increase on the year and on pace for a record-breaking yearly output.
Ever skeptical of Beijing’s production numbers, AZ China’s Paul Adkins says his firm’s independent measurement of aluminium output reflected a 1.6-percent falloff of production in November from October’s numbers due to capacity closures.
China’s production of non-ferrous metals (aluminium, antimony, copper, lead, mercury, magnesium, nickel, tin, titanium, and zinc) totaled 4.71 million metric tons in November, up by 4.2 percent on the month and 12.7 percent on the year. Daily production totaled 157 thousand metric tons, the highest rate recorded since June of last year. Through November, China’s 2018 production of non-ferrous metals totaled 50.43 million metric tons, a 6.1-percent increase on the year.