The opening of a new aluminium smelter in Yunnan province has been postponed by Henan Shenhuo Group due to adverse weather and the resulting delays in construction according to statements made by a company spokesperson on Wednesday.
The plant, which is located in Wenshan prefecture, is slated to have a nameplate capacity of 900 thousand metric tons per annum. The CNY6.75-billion (US$952 million) plant was built in two phases and is powered by a captive hydroelectric plant. Upon completion it will take its place as one of the Middle Kingdom’s largest aluminium smelters.
“By the end of this year, all three stages of the first phase will be put into operation,” explained the spokesperson, continuing by elaborating that the three stages would be opened at the end of the next three months beginning in October.
The mountainous terrain has made progress difficult, “so it’s delayed,” said the spokesperson. Initially the plan involved a start of production in July, but the original plans, which were drafted in May of last year, were changed to set a start date in the current month.
A second company spokesperson indicated that torrential rains were the culprit, leading to construction delays at the site.
“It has nothing to do with alumina,” promised the spokesman. Experts have recently noted a shortage of the aluminium precursor, as production fell to a 10-month low last month.
The spokesperson promised an opening of the second phase next year.
“The second phase will not require infrastructure, so it will be faster,” explained the spokesperson.
The Yunnan plant is one of several new and relocated aluminium production operations in the province. Yunnan has seen an uptick in the construction of alumnium smelting capacity due to the more ready availability of non-polluting hydropower. However, the trade has not been without costs, as the remote nature of the location has posed problems of its own.