Russian aluminium giant UC Rusal released results for the fourth quarter and full year 2021 this week. Numbers were generally better across the board as the company, along with the rest of the market, continues to claw back from the effects of the global coronavirus.
Rusal’s aluminium production rose in the quarter by one percent over the previous quarter to 953 thousand metric tons. Siberia’s smelters accounted for 93 percent of that total. Sales of aluminium rose by 8.1 percent on the quarter to 989 thousand metric tons. Sales of value-added aluminium accounted for 53 percent of that total, which was basically unchanged from the previous quarter.
Total alumina production in the prior quarter rose by 3.5 percent on the quarter to 2,138 thousand metric tons, with Russian refineries accounting for just over a third of that total. Bauxite production fell by 5 percent on the quarter to 3,602 thousand metric tons, largely due to seasonal weather that dropped production at Timan by almost 40 percent.
For the full year of 2021 Rusal produced 3,764 thousand metric tons of primary aluminium, essentially level with the prior year’s production. Aluminium sales fell by half a percent to 3,904 thousand metric tons, but the value-added portion rose from 44 percent in 2020 to 52 percent last year.
For the full year, alumina production rose by 1.5 percent to 8,304 thousand metric tons. Rusal mined 15,301 thousand metric tons of bauxite last year, up by 1.3 percent from 2020.
Rusal noted that aluminium prices finally rose back above US$3,000 per metric ton in the fourth quarter thanks to capacity cuts in Europe and an 8.8 percent bump in demand. Aluminium supply grew in 2021, rising by 3.9 percent to 67.8 million metric tons. Supply growth in China fell from 7.6 percent through the year’s first nine months to 4.7 percent for the full year of 2021. Rusal observed that aluminium inventories also fell last year, ending the year at 0.9 million metric tons. All in, the global aluminium market was in a deficit of 1.2 million metric tons last year, reversing the 1.9 million metric ton surplus ending the year 2020.