Though aluminium prices remained weak, Chinese smelters increased production last month, helping to propel the year’s output into record territory as well as setting a record in its own right. Such was the story told by official numbers released by the government earlier today.
Data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics indicated that the nation’s smelters turned out 3.05 million metric tons of virgin aluminium in December, a rise of 8.2 percent from November’s output, which was also an improvement over the prior month’s total, reversing a three-month streak of production drops.
December’s total was better by 11.3 percent from the prior year’s final month, according to Beijing’s data.
Per Reuters’ calculations, China’s average daily production figured at just under 98,400 metric tons, better by 4,800 metric tons per day than November, which had one less calendar day.
For the year, Chinese smelters combined to produce 35.8 million metric tons of first-run aluminium, a 7.4-improvement over 2017’s then-record production. Helping boost China’s production last year was weaker winter restrictions on production and, per aluminium consulting firm AZ China, an addition of 3.8 million metric tons per annum of smelting capacity, though 2.8 million metric tons of capacity was cut in the year’s later half due to weak aluminium prices.
Production for both the month and the year excelled despite struggling prices for the metal across both periods. In Shanghai, aluminium prices dipped by 0.3 percent on the month in December and 14 percent for the entire year due in large part to the trade tensions between Beijing and the United States government.
Overall, China’s production of non-ferrous metals totaled a record 5.08 million metric tons in December, up by 7.8 percent on the year and up 10 percent over the previous December. China’s full-year production totaled 56.88 million metric tons, good for a rise of 6 percent and a new yearly record.