The People’s Republic of China’s aluminium production came roaring back in December to levels not seen since early summer according to numbers released by the government on Thursday.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the Middle Kingdom produced 2.71 million metric tons in the final month of 2017, good for a 15.3-percent rise month-on-month.
Though December’s output was down by 1.8 percent from last year, China’s numbers for the full year were up by 1.6 percent, totaling 32.27 million metric tons.
December’s numbers represented a reversal from November, which saw the country’s aluminium output drop by 7.8 percent. Factors including the state’s shuttering of illegal capacity and Beijing’s 2+26 initiative to combat winter smog by compelling mandatory seasonal cuts of 30 percent by both aluminium smelters and alumina refineries likely accounted for the lion’s share of that month’s decline.
In contrast, analysts indicate that the bump in production last month can be credited in large part to new capacity coming online at smelters in Inner Mongolia and Guangxi at plants owned by Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco). Smelters in these areas fall outside the 2+26 zone and, as a result, are not subject to mandatory cuts.
While counts by private analysts agree that production in December topped that of recent months, their numbers differ. AZ China told Reuters that, by its count, the country produced 2.975 million metric tons of aluminium in the month of December, while 357 thousand metric tons per annum of smelting capacity began production in the month. In addition, as November is one day shorter than December, the extra day meant an additional 87 thousand metric tons of aluminium rolled off potlines in the month.
As for the entire year, AZ China estimates the country produced 36 million metric tons of aluminium in 2017, 3.73 million metric tons above official numbers released by Beijing.