Shanghai Nonferrous Metals News

24th February, SMM: China imported 100.66 mln t of bauxite in 2019, up by 21.91% y-o-y from 82.57 mln t in 2018.

Guinea, Australia, and Indonesia consolidated their positions as the top three exporters to China with a combined volume accounting for 94% of China’s total bauxite imports. China imported 44.45 mln t from Guinea, up 16.49% y-o-y. Guinean bauxite has long been used in Shandong refineries, but was introduced to refineries in Shanxi and Hebei in 2019 for use on their LT production lines. China imported 36.04 mln t of Australian bauxite in 2019, up 21.08% y-o-y, boosted by steady demand growth from Shandong and IM. Furthermore, increased demand from southwestern China (particularly Chongqing) also drove up overall imports. China imported 14.41 mln t of Indonesian bauxite in 2019, a surge of 91.16% y-o-y after Indonesia lifted its raw ore export ban in 2018. Indonesian bauxite is widely used by Shandong and Shanxi refineries.

According to SMM, approximately 47% of domestic alumina capacity was using imported bauxite during 2019, describing an upward trend. A few refineries in Shanxi and Henan undertook HT/LT conversions or took measures to match the processing requirements of imported bauxite including:

  • Direct HT/LT conversion: Chalco Zhongzhou, SPIC Shanxi, Henan Heung Kong Wanji, East Hope Lingshi, Sanmenxia Kaiman and Tianyuan Chemicals
  • Sweetening process: East Hope Lingshi, Chalco Mining and Guizhou Qiya
  • Direct blending: Guangxi Xinfa, Shanxi Fusheng, Xing’an Chemical and Chalco Huaxing

SMM forecast China’s 2020 bauxite imports to exceed 100 mln t again with Guinea, Australia, and Indonesia remaining as the top three suppliers.


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